CAMBRIDGE, Mass — More than a quarter of a million American women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Survival rates improve dramatically with early detection.
A new device, the Comfortable Ultrasound Breast Patch, could be a game changer when it comes to detecting the disease early.
This device is currently being developed at the M.I.T Media Lab.
It is a lightweight plastic honeycomb shield that fits easily over a bra.
Six slots allow for a small ultrasound device to take 360-degree images of a breast.
“You can wear this and while you are sipping your coffee or water, you will be able to monitor your breast tissue with no discomfort,” explained Associate Professor Canan Dagderverin, Ph.D. who created this device.
The initial application will be for women who are at high risk for breast cancer.
Dagderverin says the problem is that women can only have a mammogram every two years because of exposure to radiation and the risks that that presents.
“So, by the time the high-risk women are diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s already too late. 55% of low breast density women are diagnosed with interval cancer.”
That means it’s diagnosed between mammograms. Dagderverin says for half of those women, the disease has already advanced to a later stage pushing survival rates down to around 20%.
“This technology will be able to let you know if there’s a question mark, if there’s an anomaly, in your breast tissue. With this technology that we offer, we will be providing a survival rate up to 98% which is quite remarkable.”
Applications for this approach to scanning could go far beyond breast cancer, according to Dagderverin.
“This technology can also be adapted to other types of deep organ or deep tissuing imaging, all the way from pancreatic cancer to prostate cancer.”
The motivation behind this device was the death of a beloved aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 49 despite having regular screenings.
Dagderverin says that her aunt passed away six months after she was diagnosed.
By her aunt’s bedside, Dagderverin sketched out her idea for a better way to monitor breast health.
She says it was a comfort to her and her aunt that she was working on a way to prevent other women from have the same experience.
“She could not survive, but this technology hopefully will help many women like her.”
The thought of helping millions of women has been a big help thru out this ordeal.
“It’s an amazing feeling to see how my technology is going to touch people’s lives and save people’s lives.”
Dagderverin believes this technology could save 12 million lives around the world annually.
Right now, they’re conducting human trial to get FDA approval.
Upon approval, the expectation is the device would not be available over the counter but would require a physician’s approval.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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