Winnipeg clinic scanning for breast cancer despite order

A Winnipeg clinic is continuing to offer breast thermography screening despite an order from Manitoba's health minister to stop, CBC News has learned.

Thermography machines 'like a giant mood ring,' says health minister

Winnipeg clinic is continuing to offer breast thermography screening, despite an ongoing order from Manitoba's health minister to stop. 2:30

A Winnipeg clinic is continuing to offer breast thermography screening despite an order from Manitoba's health minister to stop.

Late last week, a CBC News producer called The Thermography Clinic on Tache Avenue, posing as someone who wanted to be screened for breast cancer.

The owner of the clinic told the producer that thermography is a screening tool and an adjunct to mammography, and then booked her in for an appointment.

"We have asked them not to do this. They have claimed that they are not doing diagnosis, but the evidence that we are gathering suggests otherwise," Manitoba Health Minister Theresa Oswald told CBC News on Monday.

In November, the Canadian Cancer Society and other medical authorities worldwide said there is no proof thermography actually works as a diagnostic tool for breast cancer.

As well, false positives from thermography tests gum up the system, resulting in patients worrying about test results that have no value.

Oswald issued a cease and desist order to the Winnipeg thermography clinic on Nov. 27, after seeing a CBC News investigation about the diagnostic tests.

Winnipeg patient Maureen Feaver said she was shocked the clinic was still offering the service, in spite of the province's order.

"My gut reaction is what happened?" she said.

Feaver was upset last fall when the clinic's owner read her scan results and suggested she come back and have her breasts scanned.

"I would say that could be considered a diagnosis," she said. "If I was somebody who was actually vulnerable, who [had] had a cancer scare, I could see that scaring the heck out of somebody."

Feaver complained and eventually got back half of the $450 she spent.

The owner of the clinic declined an interview.

'We will go to the wall,' Oswald promises

Oswald said if the clinic is still claiming to be providing diagnostic services, that should stop.

"The principle of screening, diagnosis — any sort of medical signal that this company is purporting to give — is incorrect, invalid and not supported by the evidence," she said.

"This machine, in many ways, is like a giant mood ring," she added. "People think mood rings are cool, but they certainly don't use them to diagnose their medical conditions."

A spokesperson for the province said it is in discussions with the clinic's lawyers and is reviewing all its legal options.

"I've said from beginning that we will go to the wall," Oswald said.

"If this company is indeed giving false information — indeed, false hope — and potentially false diagnoses to women, we will shut them down."