Serendipitous Detection of Asymptomatic Lesions in International Travellers

Document Type : Letter to Editor


1 School of Medicine, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland

2 School of Medicine, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia



The recent case of a 41-year-old British tourist, whose breast cancer was first suggested by a visit to a popular tourist attraction in Scotland, prompted us to consider how travel may serendipitously yield unforeseen diagnoses. The woman and her family were entertained in the thermal imaging camera room of the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions exhibit in Edinburgh when she noticed that her left breast had a different colour to her right breast.1 She recorded an image of the heat patch on her phone which she subsequently discussed with her doctor. A diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer was made and the patient was successfully treated with mastectomy without the need for chemo-radiotherapy.1 The manager of the facility was previously unaware of the potential for their thermal camera to detect occult cancers.
Thermal imaging is used at some international airports for the mass screening of passengers entering a jurisdiction, in order to detect the presence of fever, which appears as an area of intense thermal activity on the heat map. While this technology was used with some success during the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, it has been criticised in a recent review, which questioned its effectiveness in the surveillance of groups of passengers in transit.2 To the best of our knowledge, no case of breast cancer has been reported in the context of airport thermal scanning...(Read more...)

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