Skip to main content

Health Canada issues warning against breast-cancer test. But what took so long?

Thermographic camera

Ewa Seniczak- scibior/Getty Images/Hemera

Have you seen advertisements for medical clinics offering thermography, described as a safe and effective way to detect breast cancer before it develops? Have you shelled out cold, hard cash to one of the many clinics across Canada that offer the screening?

If so, you should know that thermography is not licensed or approved to screen for breast cancer in Canada and that no credible scientific evidence backs up its use.

Health Canada issued a warning about thermography today following an investigation by the CBC. Thermography machines take images using heat-sensitive infrared cameras. Proponents say that breast thermography can detect abnormalities or possible changes in the breasts long before the development of cancer.

Story continues below advertisement

Those claims, according to Health Canada and a major breast-cancer advocacy group, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, are simply false.

"It's important to give women all the facts so they can recognize that thermography is not an effective alternative to screening mammograms," Sandra Palmaro, CEO for the Ontario region of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, said in a news release.

The CBC investigation found that dozens of for-profit medical clinics across Canada are offering thermography screenings for breast cancer. The websites for these clinics claim that it is one of the safest and most effective ways at detecting and predicting development of the cancer.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administation issued a warning more than a year ago that thermography has not been proven to be effective at detecting breast cancer, and sent letters to health centres telling them to stop making claims about its benefits.

So why did it take an investigation by a media outlet before Health Canada issued a warning in this country?

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter