AN expat is demanding answers after thermal imaging of her breasts missed a life-threatening tumour.
German Anke Werner, 53, claims the screening failed to recognise the cancerous lump under her arm, with doctors diagnosing it as a lymph gland that simply needed draining.
Instead of noticing the 30mm tumour, the report advised arm exercises and a review in three months time.
“Thank God I got a second opinion and had it checked somewhere else,” Nerja-based Werner told the Olive Press.
“Now I fear there may be many other people out there whose lives could be in danger, who need to go for further tests.”
Werner, from Dusseldorf, had visited Marbella’s Bodyworks Clinic clinic in December after discovering a hard lump under her arm, just six months after removing a tumour from her breast in June 2016.
“I assumed that it might be scar tissue from the breast operation or maybe a swollen lymph gland,” she explained. “But thought best to be certain.”
According to Werner, one of the clinic’s doctors insisted she receive thermal imaging of her breasts in early January instead of the typical mammogram.
“I had not heard of this before, but after they explained that it was safe, non invasive and the newest technology in diagnosing breast cancer, I agreed, and so the doctor took a number of photos using an infrared camera.”
Just a few days later Werner was told that the results from the thermal imaging showed there was ‘nothing suspicious at this time.’
She was told to come back for another review three months later.
But fearing something wasn’t right she immediately booked a scan at another clinic, where she was told the lump was ‘suspicious’ and the she should have a biopsy, which would confirm if it was cancerous.
“It was a tumour which had been growing at 3mm per month, meaning it was definitely present before my thermal imaging,” said Werner, whose husband is one of the most successful British estate agents in Nerja.
“It’s scary, how did it not pick up that the lump was cancerous? How many other people have been misdiagnosed and are potentially walking around with cancer without knowing?”
She has now had the tumor removed and is still receiving chemotherapy.
According to Breastcancer.org such screening is not effective enough.
“No study has shown that it’s a good screening tool to detect breast cancer early, when the cancer is most treatable,” a spokesman told the Olive Press.
“It may be used to supplement information from a mammogram and help identify cancers that are close to the skin. But thermography can’t find cancers that are deeper in the breast and it can’t detect small cancers.”
Werner’s doctor at the Bodyworks Clinic, who we have chosen not to name for legal reasons, insisted that the analysis of the thermal screening is not carried out by the clinic.
She told the Olive Press: “We take the images and send them to a group of specialists in the US who send us back the report.
“There is a lot of debate at the moment over screening, some argue that mammograms don’t cover all the breast tissue while radiation from X-rays may be more harmful than we know.”
She: “Of course whenever cancer is found it is an emotional time for everyone involved.”