Published October 18, 2012
Could a woman discover if she has breast cancer by just putting on a bra? One development company says yes.
The Huffington Post is reporting that Lifeline Biotechnologies has been creating and testing out a “smart bra” called First Warning Systems, which they describe as a “novel breast health screening device and method based on disruptive technology and tissue health science.”
According to First Warning Systems, studies were conducted in more than 650 women, resulting in an average detection of at least 90 percent. They compared testing with the standard mammogram, which, according to them, averages 70 percent of accuracy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. About 210,203 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and 40,589 died. Breast cancer is also the most common cancer among Latinas.
“The First Warning System is capable not only identifying breast tissue abnormalities at their earliest stages, but can also identify the general location of such abnormalities in three dimensions to each of the four quadrants of each breast,” said a release by Lifeline Biotechnologies, a medical technology company licensing the bra.
“It is, therefore, not intended as an additional step in the breast cancer screening process, but as an accurate identifier of early breast abnormalities which generate heat via the presence of new blood vessels that nourish the area in question.”
The bra, which would be worn at a physician’s office, has 16 color-coded sensors that are taped to the patient’s breast. The sensors would then measure temperatures at programmed times over a predetermined testing period. The data is then stored in a recording device worn by the patient. Once the test period is over, the patient then submits the device to their doctor. The sensors are removed, the data is downloaded and then analyzed. Once a report is returned to the physician, the patient will be called in to discuss any clinical recommendations.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation states that many mammograms that detect abnormal tissues eventually turn out to be false positives.
While this new breast cancer detector could become a major breakthrough in making testing easier for women, medical experts believe more studies are required before being actively used.
“Most investigational medicines and medical devices, even those based on sound scientific and technical principles, do not end up being adopted into clinical practice,” says Dr. Ted Gansler, Director of Medical Content for the American Cancer Society. “The main reason is that once these new products are rigorously tested in clinical trials, the result of the study is that they are less effective than current practices.”
Dr. Gansler also explains that disregarding mammography would have harmful, serious effects.
“A woman who chooses any breast cancer screening test based on thermography instead of mammography would be making a serious mistake that could have fatal consequences. Major medical and public health organizations all recommend mammography and none recommend thermography or any other tests based on temperature measurements for early detection of breast cancer.”
Dr. Michele Doughty, who has conducted extensive research on how breast cancer affects women of various races differently, thinks the bra could be used as part of an overall test without replacing mammography.
“There needs to be more research and studies on the long term effects of the bra because they must contain some kind of ultraviolet ray component or chemical component,” says Dr. Doughty. “Mammograms and the bra just screen for breast cancer. The only way to actually detect breast cancer is through a biopsy where the specimen is found in the lab.”
Smart Planet is reporting that if more successful clinical trials occur, the bra, which will be sold for $1,000, could be available in Europe next year and then in the U.S. in 2014.