Light at the End of the Tunnel

Robert Anderson BSc(Hons) PhD

4 February 1942 to 5 December 2008

First published in In Touch October/November 2002


Another 'Breast Cancer Awareness' week has slipped by but it seems there is no miracle cure in sight. The motto of the Breast Cancer Awareness Week is, "Early detection is your best protection. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) stated in 1995 that Breast cancer is simply not a preventable disease." In 1997, the they went on to say, "There are no practical ways to prevent breast cancer, only early detection. Mammograms must be our first line of defence”.

Breast cancer rates are increasing worldwide. Annually, 180 000 women in the US are diagnosed with breast cancer, with over 44 000 dying. Around 15,000 British women diagnosed with breast cancer die annually. NZ breast cancer rates are just as frightful.

Only 50 years ago the incidence of a lifetime's risk was 1 in 20; now it is 1 in 8 and continues to climb at 1% pa. The miracle cancer cure has become a mirage, and the unprecedented spectacle of medical bumbling, such as the Gisbome smear debacle, continue. Pouring more millions into “research a cure” is patently a waste. I firmly believe that not only are environmental toxins and hormone disrupting chemicals, still pouring into our environment, to blame for breast cancer, but to some degree, so is X-ray mammography.

As early as 1977, Dr Irwin Bross had become an outspoken critic of mammography, calling it a “disastrous mistake” that would “produce the worst … epidemic of cancer in medical history.” At a meeting of the NCI, Bross accused the American Cancer Society of subjecting a quarter of a million women to X-ray dosages equivalent “to death warrants with a 15-year delay in the execution.”

When it comes to tackling the industries involved, there is an ominous silence from Breast Cancer Awareness programmes, and from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and governments. Men like Professor Samuel Epstein have spent decades fighting this battle.

So what is breast screening teaching us? Media and regulators generally support a rosy mammography picture. A little digging reveals a different picture. Professor of US Public Health Sciences, Cornelia Baines, said: “The bottom line is that the addition of annual mammography screening to physical examination has no impact on breast cancer survival.” From the highly prestigious journal, the Lancet: “Since mammogram screening was introduced in 1983, the incidence of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) which represents 12% of all breast cancer cases, has increased by 328% … and 200% of this increase is due to the use of mammography. This increase is for all women. Since the inception of widespread mammographic screening, the increase for women under the age of 40 has gone up 3000%.”

The number of women who have died or may have been put at risk by this scheme is enormous. What makes it even more shocking is that a more efficient, gentle, non-invasive and better first-line alternative diagnostic technique exists. This valuable, but neglected diagnostic tool is Digital Thermal Imaging (DTI) which has for the past two decades been a highly effective form of screening.

The basis of breast thermography is the detection of abnormal heat generated by (Angiogenesis) new blood vessel growth in the area of tumours, as well as heat generated from the metabolic activity of the tumour. Abnormal thermographic scans of the breast clearly demonstrate abnormal areas of heat. This tells the operator that something might be wrong with the physiology of the breast. It need not be cancer. It could be an infection or fibrocystic disease. A malignant tumour produces chemicals which interfere with the normal “vasomotor” control of a blood vessel, causing it to lose tone and dilate (become larger), thus providing more blood to the area, indicated on the thermogram by increased heat. The advantage of this technique is much wider than that of x-ray mammography; e.g. a patient with fibromyalgia or vascular problems can also be accurately scanned.

The advantages to this valuable diagnostic tool are:

Thermography of the breast can detect abnormality from 8-10 years before mammography can detect a mass’

Thermography is non-invasive; it does absolutely nothing to the body, it only measures the heat coming from the surface of the skin;

Thermography is painless;

Thermography is completely safe, even for pregnant and nursing women;

Thermography allows for the earliest risk marker for hidden breast pathology, and due to its non-invasive characteristics, it can be utilized to monitor the treatment approach used by the doctor.

So why are we not using this wonderful tool?

Besides the intractability of bureaucracy, vested interest in mammography and its associated cancer industry ensures the continuation of the status quo. If we are to overcome this, we must pressurise government into funding thermography at a National level. Surely NZ women deserve safer detection of this scourge.

New Zealand readers may like to know that a new thermal breast imaging clinic will be opening soon in Tauranga using the latest diagnostic imaging equipment. An appointment can be made by phoning reception on 07 578 5899.


Robert Anderson BSc(Hons) PhD

Robert Anderson was a Quaker, teacher and writer. He was a Trustee of Physicians and Scientists for Global Responsibility (, a member of Amnesty International, a Theosophist, and a campaigner for peace and disarmament. He believed everyone has the right to equality and respect, freedom of speech and religion He lectured on many subjects to meet the public's right to be independently informed on issues of science, the environment and social justice. He was passionate about making this world a better place for the generations to come. He authored eleven books and regularly wrote for a number of periodicals.


Reference material:

L D Bross et al, "Screening Random Asymptotic Women Under 50 by Annual Mammographies: Does it make sense?" Journal of Surgical Oncology 8, No 5 (1976) 437-445

Consensus Development Meeting on Breast Cancer Screening, Sept 14-16 1977 L D.Bross, Written Statement Submitted for the NIH/NCI meeting page Invitation of Dr D Frederickson.

Wright C J and Mueller C B, ‘Screening mammography and public health policy: the need for perspective,’ Lancet, 1 July 1995346(8966) 29-32

Additional Information from the web site - Breast ultrasound called key - Washington.

Ultrasound screening can detect cancers that mammograms miss in women with dense breasts, according to a five-year study recently released.

"While mammography detected 98% of cancers in women with fatty breasts, it found only 48% in women with the densest breasts," said Dr. M. Kolb, New York radiologist and co-author of the study.

Additional screening by ultrasound increased the number of women diagnosed with cancers by 42%, according to the study of 27,825 consecutive screening sessions performed on 11,130 women who had no signs of breast cancer when they enrolled.

Over the course of the study, which lasted from 1995 to 2000, 246 cancers were diagnosed in 221 women. The key result: “screening ultrasound finds tumours that mammography misses”, Kolb said. Kolb: "Women with dense breasts, and especially those who are high-risk, should strongly consider having a screening ultrasound as well." Kolb recommended that women ask their doctors