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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Thermography is a Safe, Non-Invasive Breast Screening Option: Learn how to examine one's health using thermography, says Tina Clemmons

May 02, 2015 10:55PM ● By Tina Clemmons

Thermal imaging is gaining the spotlight as a new way to examine the state of our health using high-resolution thermal cameras and state-of-the-art thermal imaging software. In brief, here is how thermography works. Thermal cameras capture infrared light, the invisible light that depicts the temperatures radiating from your skin. These temperatures are converted into color, giving the ability to “map” the hotter and cooler regions on the skin, thereby providing accurate information about the body’s response to distress, disease and damage.

When something in the body isn’t right, the skin temperature that corresponds to the distressed area changes. The infrared camera captures the skin temperatures, and the images are sent to trained and certified thermography reading doctors. Any difference in temperature of at least .18 degrees Farenheit indicates a significant finding and what and where the problem is.

Unlike X-rays, mammograms and MRIs which look at the body’s anatomy (bodily structure), thermography examines the physiology (the function of our body parts). It is a different approach that can reveal not only how our body is functioning as a system, but also what might be wrong. As Dr. Gregory Melvin, a board-certified thermal imaging reading doctor for more than 20 years explains, thermography is “a simple test of physiology that relies on the sympathetic nerve control of skin blood flow and the ability of the sympathetic system to respond and react to pathology anywhere in the body.”

Temperature changes may be caused by altered blood flow or reduced nerve activity. The hypothalamus receives a signal from the nervous system that the body has a problem and it links with the endocrine system to send hormones to the affected area. The hypothalamus also raises the skin temperature at the affected area, producing a heat signature that thermal imaging cameras can detect.

Thermal imaging, U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved in 1982 as a valuable adjunctive to mammograms for detecting cancer without subjecting the patient to discomfort or harmful radiation, can detect increased heat from increased blood flow to a suspicious area. Cancer needs oxygen to grow, meaning it needs more blood supply. Cancerous cells emit a protein to stimulate angiogenesis, or new capillary growth.

The increased blood flow raises the temperature around the cancer, which is detected by the thermal camera. The initial images serve as a benchmark for comparison over time. “We’re looking to see how the temperature patterns change over time to see if the growth is aggressive or not,” explains Melvin. Regular thermal scans are a safe way of detecting these pattern changes.

Tina Clemmons is a certified clinical thermographer and owner of De Novo Scan Clinical Thermography, with two Valley locations providing thermal imaging throughout Arizona. For more information, call 480-284-2222 or visit

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