The boast on OC Breast Wellness' website sounds intriguing: a "state-of-the-art" medical device that detects breast cancer eight to 10 years before mammography.
Is it true?
The FDA says no, and a leading breast cancer organization calls the device unreliable.
"Thermography cannot distinguish between benign and cancerous [growths]. And ... it is not good at finding cancers deeper within the breast tissue," according to a report by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Last year, the FDA issued a warning to consumers, state prosecutors and cancer organizations about clinics promoting thermography -- which uses an infrared camera to map variations in skin temperature -- as a substitute for mammograms.
The FDA said it found no scientific evidence to support "misleading claims" that thermography can "detect pre-cancerous abnormalities and diagnose breast cancer long before mammography."
The FDA also sent cease-and-desist letters to several clinics and companies making such boasts.
But a number of practitioners still promote thermography as superior to mammography. O2 Wellness of San Clemente, Balance in Motion of Costa Mesa and Lesli Remington of Thermal Body Scans in Costa Mesa, for example, also claim thermography can detect tumors a decade sooner than mammograms.
When the FDA was asked about OC Breast Wellness -- which is operated by chiropractor Charles Hough and former swing dance champion Janice Salmon -- a spokeswoman said the agency doesn't comment on specific advertising claims.
OC Breast Wellness, which charges $235 for a thermography exam, declined to respond for this article. "No comment," Salmon said via email.
The FDA, citing numerous health and cancer organizations, recommends mammograms as "still the most effective method of detecting breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages." The agency said it issued its warning about thermography because it is "concerned that women will believe these misleading claims about thermography and not receive needed mammograms."