Monday, May 23, 2022

A low-cost Bra that detects Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer. In India, it is mostly diagnosed in women, among all the other forms of cancer. In fact, it is ranked number one cancer in Indian females. Breast cancer diagnosed patients are increasing day by day. 

It is most commonly found in the woman in middle age which is the most important phase of a woman’s life, whether as a life partner or as a mother. The current Indian Cancer statistics show, that among every 22 women, one is suffering from breast cancer. And the most regrettable part is, for every two women diagnosed with it, one dies.

If breast cancer is found, it’s best to be diagnosed and treated at the earliest possible stage. Follow-up after an abnormal finding on a screening test may include a diagnostic mammogram, a breast MRI and/or a breast ultrasound.

All these tests cannot be considered an economical idea to be performed by everyone.

With the mission of creating an economical way to detect breast cancer, a group of scientists from Kerala has invented a revolutionary product. After years of research and development, they have created a low cast Bra. Though it is much cheaper than screening and mammography tests, it can play a crucial role in detecting breast cancer.

A team from the Thrissur branch of the Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology (C-MET) invented this wearable device that is embedded with sensors and integrates thermal imaging to detect cancerous cells in breasts.

A wearable bra that detects breast cancer
Courtesy: C-MET.

Dr. A Seema, who led the team was recently awarded the prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskar by the President of India for this revolutionary device.

“The idea took root when the director of Malabar Cancer Centre (Kannur) visited us sometime in 2014. They’ve been our medical partners in this project. They broached the idea of working out ways of breast cancer detection on a community scale. The mammogram was the golden standard but the provision wasn’t available in even Primary Health Centres across the country. What they had in mind was a portable device that could be implemented at a community level. This propelled us to conceptualize a wearable device for detection through thermal imaging,” she explains.

How this “Bra” can diagnose breast cancer?

As you wear the Bra, sensors inside it will map the skin temperature of the breasts and detects the presence of any form of abnormalities. After finding any abnormality you can then concern your Doctor for a further course of action.

A regular mammogram exposes you to a small number of radiations. Additionally, the woman may feel some pain and discomfort. Whereas, with the newly invented Bra there is no exposure to radiation as it physically maps the breast skin temperature. Also, the person does not experience any pain.

In addition, it replaces all those bulky setups. The device is extremely portable which makes it perfect for any health care or ASHA worker to carry with them during field visits. It can easily go with you in any small bag or briefcase.

Another amazing feature is it ensures wearers’ privacy as it allows you to wear clothes over it during the test. This would make it most convincing because many women hesitate during the mammogram and screening tests due to privacy.

Moreover, the device doesn’t have any age restrictions. Also, fits all body sizes and types, even girls in the young age group can wear it.

“The wearable device alone would cost between Rs 400-500 and these are our lab estimates. Once commercialized, it could even get cheaper. If one is to go through the tests alone, I can ascertain that it wouldn’t cost more than Rs 50,” Dr. A Seema added.

In short, the person can detect breast cancer in a pain-free, stress-free, super comfortable, and extremely economical way. It can be the most promising product available in the market so far for detecting and restraining breast cancer.

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