Early detection of breast cancer
High resolution dynamic digital infrared imaging can identify early signs of angiogenic processes in breast tissueno matter how dense or cystic
The Yannacone patents teach a method for early detection of neoplastic processes in the human breast—breast cancer—which combines high-resolution functional infrared imaging with analytical software which promotes meta-analysis of the extensive database which would quickly develop following adoption of the method as an international screening system and facilitate identification of the “signatures” associated with physiological abnormalities in the breast.
The infrared imaging systems described in the Yannacone patents can provide substantially more clinical information about abnormal physiologic activity at an earlier stage in the evolution of neoplastic (cancerous) processes in the human breast than any of the static anatomical images provided by X-ray mammography, whether film or digital, or the other breast imaging systems presently available.
The non-invasive screening modality and, if necessary, the non invasive localization modality of the infrared Mammography system taught n the Yannacone patents does not expose patients to ionizing radiation or subject them to any of the pain and discomfort that characterizes X-ray mammography.
According to a recent National Cancer Institute (NCI) study, X-ray mammograms can miss an average of 20% of the breast cancers that are present at the time of screening and up to 50% of the cancers present in the denser breasts of women in their 40’s and younger. Additionally, X-ray mammography has a significant false positive rate.
A Brief History of Medical Infrared Breast Imaging
The uses of infrared imaging in medicine are clouded as a result of the failures and misuse of liquid crystal thermographyNevertheless, early clinical evaluation reported sufficient success with static low-resolution infrared imaging that infrared imaging was included in the national Breast Cancer Demonstration and Detection Project (BCDDP) in 1973.
Unfortunately, when alluded to in contemporary literature, evaluations of infrared imaging for early detection of breast cancer are still based on information from 20-year-old technology using liquid crystal measurements of skin surface temperature and qualitative interpretation by examiners with limited training.
Even static infrared imaging has improved, however. A diagnostic center in Canada using an early digital infrared imaging system without the breast cancer specific application algorithms, reported to the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Denver on 20 May 1997, that Infrared Mammography “constituted a safe, practical and informative adjuvant primary imaging modality, particularly in those with either intermediate or negative physical examination or [X-ray] mammography. In many of these patients, it constituted the most obvious indication of the malignant process.” The limited system used in that study located a number of tumors that X-ray mammography missed in women under the age of 50.
The Infrared Mammography Method
The patient disrobes from the waist up and is seated in a chair with their arms supported in an elevated position to permit the infrared imager to “see” the sides of the breasts and the auxiliary region under the arms. Room temperature air from small cooling fans blows toward the chest as the infrared camera records the infrared energy emitted from the skin and transmits the raw data to the local on-site computer for processing.
As the skin surface of the breasts cools, the sympathetic nervous system reduces the blood flow to all the breast tissue in an orderly fashion over time in order to preserve core body temperature. The infrared camera detects and the computer records and analyzes these changes in infrared emissions from the skin over time.
The infrared imaging device receives electromagnetic energy in the infrared region much as a radio or television receiver does in the radio frequency region. Infrared energy emitted from the skin surface behaves like radio waves emanating from a ground plane antenna and not like the heat from a household radiator which flows from the floor up to the ceiling and then fills the room.
Each cell of the skin covering the volume of breast tissue extending to the chest wall musculature can be thought of as a tiny radio transmitter sending its own unique signal.
Most of the signal processing techniques that are used in high-resolution dynamic digital infrared imaging are well known and described in the open scientific literature. What the Yannacone patents teach is a method to join together many existing technologies in order to identify breast tissue which has the suspicious characteristics of an unregulated or angiogenic blood supply the identifying factor unique to most neoplastic lesions.
The image processing algorithms used by the Infrared Mammography System for early detection of breast cancer are relatively simple compared to the algorithms and techniques used in astronomy or exploration geophysics Like high-resolution dynamic digital infrared imaging, the astronomers and geophysicists are looking for anomalies in the data stream; trying to find celestial objects light years from Earth or pockets of oil and gas thousands of feet below the surface, just as we are trying to find tiny pockets of cancerous tissue. While their goals are different, the imaging and data analysis techniques are remarkably similar and have proved extremely successful.
A unique combination of sophisticated mathematical procedures to process and analyze a series of images of the infrared radiation emanating from the skin surface that result from physiological responses within the breast tissue to a thermal challenge created by a moving stream of room temperature air over the surface of the breast can identify and characterize statistically significant changes in the physiological response of the tissue within the breast.
Each time a patient has a infrared mammography examination, the data can be compared to their previous exams stored the database and any changes between the current exam and any prior exams can be detailed and monitored.
Early detection of breast cancer is about physiology not anatomy!
Most methods of breast cancer screening, including X-ray mammography and MRI, are directed toward identifying anatomical structures within the breasts. The System detailed in the Yannacone patents identifies and characterizes physiological processes within the breasts. This is comparable to the difference between magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and functional MRI (fMRI). MRI can image anatomical structures within the body but fMRI can actually image biological processes within the body, rather than just the structures, which might be associated with those processes.
Analysis of the data collected during an infrared breast scan can be used to locate and identify abnormal physiological processes within specific areas of the breast tissue. There is a high degree of correlation between anomalous infrared emissions from the skin surface of the breast and specific physiological anomalies within the volume of breast tissue. The system described in the Yannacone patents permit identification of statistically significant anomalous patterns of infrared radiation from the surface of the breast which correlate with neo-plastic disease processes within the associated volume of breast tissue.
The infrared mammography system permits identification of the vasculature within the breast and permits accurate location of statistically significant areas of anomolous thermal activity. Since the location of the bifurcations of the vasculature do not change over time with changes in mass and shape of the human breast, changes in statitical anomalies can be tracked over timefor signs of increasing activity or physical growth.19970922_comparison of images obtained by he differential methods
Physiological mechanisms of anomalous infrared emissions
There are several physiological mechanisms that can account for the association between anomalous infrared emissions from a particular area on the surface of the breast and some abnormal physiological process within the volume of breast tissue. Some of those mechanisms suggest that chemical messengers from neoplastic activity may influence the response of the superficial blood vessels of the skin to thermal challenge, while other mechanisms may be related to angiogenesis and the angiogenic activity necessary for tumor growth within the volume of breast tissue. Sympathetic nervous system control of the thermoregulatory process in the human body when confronting thermal challenge is also involved. Still other physiological and biophysical mechanisms may be recognized as the database grows.
The approach of the Yannacone patents to breast cancer detection is based upon detecting, distinguishing and classifying all possible physiological activity in the volume of breast tissue in response to a non-invasive, room temperature, convective thermal challenge. Within the limits of detector sensitivity, the System records the complete spectrum of the physiological response directly measuring the spatial and temporal variation in infrared emissions from the entire surface area of the breasts during a thermal challenge. Temporal histograms can represent the complete spectrum of physiological responses to the thermal challenge in both space and time.