STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim of the study was to determine whether thermography could be used to identify women with breast cancer or women at risk of developing the disease within five years. DESIGN--Women were screened for breast cancer and a documentary follow up was conducted five years later through general practitioner records. SETTING--The project involved Women resident in the Bath District Health Authority area, who were invited to attend a breast screening clinic. SUBJECTS--10,238 women aged between 40 and 65 were screened. Of these, 4284 accepted personal letters of invitation from their general practitioners and 5954 volunteered to take part in the project in response to publicity; 9819 (96.5%) were traced after five years. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--All the women had a thermographic and clinical examination of their breasts. If either examination was abnormal they were referred for mammography. Sensitivity of thermography was found to be 61% and specificity 74%. A documentary follow up of each woman was conducted five years later, when it was found that 71.6% of the women who developed breast cancer had had a normal thermogram at the time of examination, as did 73% of those who did not. CONCLUSIONS--Thermography is not sufficiently sensitive to be used as a screening test for breast cancer, nor is it useful as an indicator of risk of developing the disease within five years.
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