Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1993 Nov 30;698:153-8.
Breast thermography is a noninvasive prognostic procedure that predicts tumor growth rate in breast cancer patients.
Elliott Mastology Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70816.
Our recent retrospective analysis of the clinical records of patients who had breast thermography demonstrated that an abnormal thermogram was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and a poorer prognosis for the breast cancer patient. This study included 100 normal patients, 100 living cancer patients, and 126 deceased cancer patients. Abnormal thermograms included asymmetric focal hot spots, areolar and periareolar heat, diffuse global heat, vessel discrepancy, or thermographic edge sign. Incidence and prognosis were directly related to thermographic results: only 28% of the noncancer patients had an abnormal thermogram, compared to 65% of living cancer patients and 88% of deceased cancer patients. Further studies were undertaken to determine if thermography is an independent prognostic indicator. Comparison to the components of the TNM classification system showed that only clinical size was significantly larger (p = 0.006) in patients with abnormal thermograms. Age, menopausal status, and location of tumor (left or right breast) were not related to thermographic results. Progesterone and estrogen receptor status was determined by both the cytosol-DCC and immunocytochemical methods, and neither receptor status showed any clear relationship to the thermographic results. Prognostic indicators that are known to be related to tumor growth rate were then compared to thermographic results. The concentration of ferritin in the tumor was significantly higher (p = 0.021) in tumors from patients with abnormal thermograms (1512 +/- 2027, n = 50) compared to tumors from patients with normal thermograms (762 +/- 620, n = 21). Both the proportion of cells in DNA synthesis (S-phase) and proliferating (S-phase plus G2M-phase, proliferative index) were significantly higher in patients with abnormal thermograms. The expression of the proliferation-associated tumor antigen Ki-67 was also associated with an abnormal thermogram. The strong relationships of thermographic results with these three growth rate-related prognostic indicators suggest that breast cancer patients with abnormal thermograms have faster-growing tumors that are more likely to have metastasized and to recur with a shorter disease-free interval.