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Heat camera at tourist attraction spots woman’s breast cancer

EDINBURGH, Scotland: Heat Camera helped a tourist spot a thermal anomaly, later diagnosed as breast cancer, during a family visit to the attraction site in Edinburgh.

Bal Gill was at the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions at the top of the Royal Mile with her family in May when she discovered an unusual thermal patch on her chest.

Gill said she noticed a red heat patch in her left breast, adding, “We thought it was odd and having looked at everyone else they didn’t have the same. I took a picture and we carried on.”

The 41-year-old later went on to the internet to search a possible explanation for the anomaly and found that heat images are also used by oncologists to diagnose cancer.

She booked an appointment with her doctor, who put her on breast cancer treatment after proper medical tests.

Health experts suggest proper medical screening for cancer diagnosis and call Gill “lucky” to have detected the disease in the early stage of its development through not-so-efficient thermal imaging.

Gill revealed that she has had “two surgeries and have one to go to prevent it from spreading,” in a letter to the Camera Obscura.

“I just wanted to say thank you: without that camera, I would never have known. I know it’s not the intention of the camera but for me, it really was a life-changing visit,” she added.

General Manager of Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, Andrew Johnson, said it was “amazing” Gill noticed the difference in the image and acted promptly.

“We wish her all the best with her recovery and hope to meet her and her family in the future,” he said.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against using thermal cameras as a standalone diagnostic tool.

“Thermography is not a substitute for regular mammograms and should not be used in place of mammography for breast cancer screening or diagnosis,” FDA guidance issued February 2019 reads.

Vice President Clinical Radiology at The Royal College of Radiologists, Dr Caroline Rubin, said there is no scientific evidence to suggest that thermal imaging is effective for “screening breast cancer or other medical conditions”.

She explained that cancer tumors “vary hugely in size and position”, therefore, “Thermography devices are not sensitive or specific enough to be a trusted method to detect breast cancer”.

Rubin suggested all women attend routine mammography screening appointments, particularly after they age above 40.

October has been marked as the Breast Cancer Awareness Month by the World Health Organization as it aims to increase awareness about the second most common cancer in women.