Breast cancer survivor shares cautionary tale about thermography

Thermography is approved by the FDA for breast cancer screening, but only when used with what the administration considers a primary test, like mammography.
7:28 | 02/12/19

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Transcript for Breast cancer survivor shares cautionary tale about thermography
And now to a "Gma" investigation. This morning we're looking at something so critical for women, breast cancer screening. The mammogram is the most widely known test. When we heard about another screening method that could find the prec we took another look and Kyra Phillips is here with what she found. It was quite a lot. We're talking about they remember -- thermography. An alternative to mammography and more efficient at determining precursers to cancer. As our investigation uncovered taking them at face value could put your health at risk. Reporter: The pitch sounds so promising. Pic tumors eight to ten years prior. Reporter: An infrared screening test available at more than 700 locates across the U.S. Sometimes advertised as a radiation-free screening for identifying precursers to breast cancer. Thermography. If you think it's a replacement, it isn't. Some practitioners make it clear it isn't but Morgan says she didn't notice that in the fine print. They said they can detect disease, maybe in advance before it even happens. Reporter: After finding a lump in her breast in 2012, Morgan says she was in denial and hoping to deal with it naturally. So she went here to total thermal imaging wellness center outside San Diego. Operated by Dr. Gregory Melvin, a chiropractor. He said are you sure you have a lump? I said, yeah. He said, I don't see anything. Reporter: Her baseline test indicated she had what they called a mild to moderate risk of developing aggressive tissue. Dr. Melvin recommended exercises, a cleanse and that she come back in three months for a comparative scan. His protocol for new patients. Morgan returned four months later. Her symptoms had become dramatically worse. She refused another set of scans. I just said, I'm such a fool. Why did I even come here? Reporter: Unemployed and uninsured, Morgan says it took several months to get in for a mammogram an biopsy. Her diagnosis, stage three breast cancer. How did you get through? I think I'm stronger than I thought it was. Reporter: According to the fda, thermography has not been shown to be effective as a stand-alone test for breast cancer screening and is only cleared for use alongside a primary test like mammography. The total thermal imaging brochure states that it is an alternative to mammography and is far more efficient at detecting cancer. I don't know anyone who I consider a credible resource who would suggest that thermography in the absence of another breast cancer detection test is adequate. Reporter: Melvin and his partner Lynda Hayes agreed to sit down with us. Do you have research that shows that thermography saves lives? Only in conjunction where they were using mammograms with thermography. You told our producers that nobody needs a mammogram. I would never you know, because people are very, very adamant about mammograms and it's something I'm just not going to say. Reporter: But this is Lynda Hayes at a business expo talking with "Gma investigates" and a producer from our L.A. Station K ABC. Do I need to get a mammogram if I do this? Nobody needs a mammogram. Even if you never did this you don't need a mammogram. That's her feeling for her. Reporter: I went in for a thermal scan at a clinic in N York. Recording it with undercover cameras. All images sent to Dr. Melvin for reading. When I received my baseline results -- A mild to moderate risk of developing aggressive tissue. Reporter: They read almost identically to Morgan's but I went in for a mammogram afterwards and thankfully it was Normal. Do you remember your patient Morgan Sloan? No. No. Reporter: We show them Morgan's thermal report from 2012. There are significant thermal findings in the report. If you were definitely alarmed, why We need a three-month recall to understand it. Reporter: Dr. Melvin later told ABC Morgan didn't follow his recommendations and pointed out this line on the intake form. The report will not tell me whether I have an illness, disease or other condition. We also asked about those cancer detecting statements in the brochure. They told us they have now changed it. As for Morgan she is now cancer-free and her advice for anyone who discovers a lump -- Go get a biopsy. It's the only way. Reporter: A biopsy being just one of the medically accepted and proven methods to examine a lump. When it comes to breast cancer screening, the gold standard is the mammogram. Hundreds of thousands of women have been involved in research trials showing that test is the most effective. Early detection method. Thermography doesn't have that kind of scientific backing. And early detection saves lives and I think most people know that a mammogram saved my life right here in times square on "Good morning America" I had my first mammogram at 40 and it led to a stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis and I, you know, had no other symptoms. What are the current guidelines for women and mammography? They say 45 but it's interesting that you tell me you had it at 40 because women should talk to their doctor. Maybe they need one sooner. I was watching you watch this piece and you're -- My blood was boiling said no one needs a mammogram. I needed a mammogram. It saved your life. Women need to have the option and the correct information about how to handle their own health and you say it's important that they listen to their bodies. Right. And you did. I mean you were surprised what you found but then you knew what you had to do. Right. A lot of women, they know something is wrong. Like Morgan knew something was wrong, go to your primary doctor or your ob/gyn and talk to your doctor. Bottom line. Go with what's scientifically proven at this point. I know no one wants to have any unnecessary tests but these are necessary. It is the most effective way to detect breast cancer and many times we are symptomless and it doesn't mean that we're cancer-free or that we're healthy. We have to have very important tests available to women. Anyone who tells you that you don't need one, you probably ought to get a second opinion. You're my biggest advocate. I knew you would love this story. I knew you would appreciate this story women everywhere should appreciate it. If you'd like to learn more about your investigation, you're going to have a lot more tonight on "Nightline" so thank you again on behalf of all women who are in need of mammograms. By the way, you had a podcast. You're a busy woman on the Mueller investigation. How is this for a segue. Segue right into politic. When you're not watching George Stephanopoulos on "This week," our expert, okay, yes, thank you so much, download our podcast, the investigation and we are going to discuss the Mueller report. We have key newsmakers on the show and break it down, our whole investigative team, what you need to know about the Mueller investigation. Thank you, Kyra.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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