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Breast-Exam Clinic Makes Questionable Claims

OC Breast Wellness in Fountain Valley says thermography can detect cancer eight years before mammograms. The FDA calls such claims bogus. Several other clinics also promote the device.

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."

Janice Salmon October 19, 2012 at 08:36 PM
At OC Breast Wellness, we believe women should have every tool at their disposal when it comes to breast health. We agree 100 percent with the FDA, which states on its own website that 'Thermography devices have been cleared by the FDA for use as an adjunct, or additional, tool for detecting breast cancer.' Thermography is an outstanding tool for detecting early signs of breast cancer, and we have always counseled our clients to follow up with their own doctors for further diagnosis. We're sorry if Patch.com misunderstood our procedures."
Roy Rivenburg October 19, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Patch.com misunderstood nothing. OC Breast Wellness claimed on its website that thermography detects tumors eight to 10 years before mammography and is more accurate. The FDA says both claims are false.
Roy Rivenburg October 19, 2012 at 09:39 PM
It's also bears repeating that Susan G. Komen for the Cure considers thermography unreliable because the device "cannot distinguish between benign and cancerous [growths]. And ... it is not good at finding cancers deeper within the breast tissue."
Rhen Kohan October 22, 2012 at 05:35 PM
There is quite a bit of substantial research on this showing that thermography serves as a safe alternative to the mammogram. Please go to an article on this, link follows, explaining the history on this and WHY the FDA has classified it as they have - http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/16/winning--fewer-mammograms-being-done.aspx I know nothing of the OC Breast Wellness Center but think that your article and headline is imbalanced and certainly did not depict these businesses mentioned fairly. Did YOU, OC PATCH STAFF, do much research before you wrote it? Do you understand how huge an industry the mammogram is? Why would they want any other procedure to in any way replace it? They wouldn't.
Roy Rivenburg October 23, 2012 at 05:26 PM
SJChomeowner: Did YOU do any research on Joseph Mercola before posting the link to his site? He's been slammed as a quack by scientists, Business Week, the FDA, Quackwatch and other reputable sources. For a look at some of his outrageous claims, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Mercola
Katydid October 24, 2012 at 04:33 AM
If a mammogram can tell the difference between benign and cancerous growths why do they have to do needle biopsies, and why are there so many false positives? Susan G. Komen Foundation is interested in protecting their paychecks, not finding cures, or even better technology.
Richard Castaneda November 02, 2012 at 01:25 PM
what is the remedy if one get the disease, can it be operated without cutting the breast?

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