Project MammoEchoThermo


El proyecto "Cribado coste-efectivo de cáncer de mama mediante mamografía, ecografía y termografía (MamoEcoTermo)" está financiado por el Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología (ref. PID2019-110686RB-I00).

The project "Cost-effective breast cancer screening with mammography, ultrasound and thermography (MammoEchoThermo)" is supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.


Breast cancer is the one with the highest incidence in women and causes a high number of deaths every year. However, when detected early, the 5-year survival rate is 99%. For this reason virtually all countries have screening programs or would like to implement them if they had the necessary means. The standard screening technique is mammography, supplemented in some cases with sonography (also called echography or ultrasound). In the last decades Breast thermography has achieved higher and higher accuracy, mainly due to the improvement of infrared cameras and the application of artificial intelligence techniques. Several recent studies indicate that it can surpass mammography in sensitivity and specificity. It also has the advantages of being harmless (for not using ionizing radiation), painless (for not needing breast compression) and cheap (infrared cameras are much cheaper than mammographic and sonographic equipment). Despite this, thermography still has a low acceptance in Western countries and several professional societies advice against its use.

The main objective of this project is to develop an integral decision support system for breast cancer screening. It will be able to determine the optimal screening pattern for each woman based on her age and risk factors (family history, breast density, lifestyle, contraceptive use, hormone replacement therapy, etc.). The pattern will indicate which tests should be performed, in what order and how often, with cost- effectiveness criteria. In addition, the system will be able to interpret images of the three techniques (mammography, ultrasound and thermography), generate written reports for each one and combine the findings in order to determine, in case of suspicious evidence, the most appropriate diagnostic tests.

The second goal is to demonstrate with a rigorous study that today thermography has sufficient accuracy to be used in breast cancer screening, in combination with mammography and ultrasound, providing important advantages.

The study will be based on data from two very different hospitals: one European (HM Montepríncipe, Boadilla del Monte, Madrid) and one African (Holy Spirit Hospital, Makeni, Sierra Leone). The former has the most advanced screening and diagnostic equipment, while the latter lacks the necessary means to perform mammograms, so it can only apply ultrasound and thermography.

The research team has 13 members: 10 specialists in artificial intelligence and 3 medical doctors. They belong to three universities (UNED, Francisco de Vitoria and Complutense) and to the HM Montepríncipe hospital. The work team also includes 5 artificial intelligence researchers and a health economist from the HM Hospitals Research Foundation.