Hundreds and thousands of people are affected by cancer each year; it is one of the most fatal diseases and a leading cause of death and disability for humans (Iranifam 2014). There are several types of cancer than can affect different areas of the body, some being less life-threatening than others. A vast amount of patients suffer from late diagnosis or recurrence of their disease in spite of all the advances in diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Modern cancer detection tools include: physical examination, biopsy, X-ray, Pet/CT, MRI, ultrasound, endoscopy, genetic tests and laboratory tests (urine, blood, etc.). Current available imaging modalities do not show micrometastasis, which are a collection of small cancer cells that spreads from the original tumor to another area of the body. Tumor biopsy is an invasive technique used to detect early stage or recurrent cancer. For these reasons, the need for an inexpensive, painless diagnostic modality is crucial (Rohanizadegan 2018).
A tumor, otherwise known as a neoplasm, occurs when there is abnormal cellular growth which forms a lesion or in many cases, a lump. A tumor can grow in any part of the human body. There are two main types of tumors. The first type is cancerous and is known as a malignant tumor. The other type is non-cancerous and it referred to as a benign tumor. Cancer is a degenerative condition where there is uncontrollable cellular growth that spreads in your body. There are a number of prolonged methods used to treat cancer. This depends on the stage of the cancer and whether it has spread to other areas of the body. TNM and TNMF are systems used by clinicians to inform on prognosis and to plan the treatment. The ‘T’ refers to the size of the cancer and how far it has spread into surrounding tissue; it ranges from 1-4, 1 being small and 4 being large. The ‘N’ is referring to the lymph nodes and whether or not the cancer has spread to them; it ranges from 0, signifying that there is no cancer in the lymph nodes, to 3, signifying that there is cancer present in the lymph nodes. The ‘M’ refers to the cancer spreading to other areas of the body; it ranges from 0-1, 0 meaning the cancer has not spread and 1 meaning the cancer has spread. Finally, the ‘F’ refers to risk factors that the clinician might need to be made aware in the instance that a more aggressive treatment is needed. Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy have been used for a number of years to treat cancer (Ahmed Farag, et al. 2016).
Breast cancer is amongst the leading cancers in developed countries along with non-melanoma skin cancer (Rottenberg, et al. 2017). A woman’s age, body mass index, breast density, age at first birth, family history, BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are several factors that contribute to the risk of developing breast cancer (Sun, et al. 2018). Breast cancer can be diagnosed after an abnormal screening mammogram, screening breast ultrasound or screening breast MRI. Unfortunately, some breast cancers are not screen-detected and clinicians will not become aware of the cancer until they are blatant masses. Studies show that the temperature of a malignant tumor is higher than that of normal tissue (Shaber, et al. 1997). Thermography is used in thermograms to study heat distribution in tumors by measuring the blood flow and temperature of the skin on the surface of the body. This method has been extensively used to detect cancer but has not been accepted for routine application (Silva, et al. 2015). Thermography should not be used as a substitute for mammography in early breast cancer detection, the main reason being that thermography only provides superficial abnormal thermograms. Mammography screenings are much more reliable and are known as “life savers”. Studies have shown that there was a 39% decrease in breast cancer related deaths in USA between 1989 and 2015 due to the early detection of breast cancer using mammography (Gourd 2017).