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New device can help detect breast cancer early on

More than a quarter of a million American women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

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Survival rates improve dramatically with early detection.

A new device could be a game changer, as it allows women to detect the disease much sooner than they would if they relied only on a mammogram.

The comfortable ultrasound breast patch is a lightweight plastic web that goes over a bra. It has six slots which allow a small ultrasound device to take 360-degree images.

“Just to give you an example, 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,” device inventor Canan Dagdeviren said.

Dagdeviren is an associate professor at MIT’s Media Lab.

Its initial application will be for women who are at high risk for breast cancer.

“We can only have mammography every two years because it is radioactive technology and the risk over benefit is quite high. And so by the time the high-risk women are diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s already too late. So, 55% of low breast density women are diagnosed with interval cancer,” Dagdeviren said.

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That means it’s diagnosed between mammograms and for half of those women, the disease has already advanced to a later stage.

This pushes the survival rates down to around 20%.

“With this technology that we offer, we will be providing a survival rate of up to 98% which is quite remarkable,” Dagdeviren said.

Applications for this approach could go far beyond breast cancer.

“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,” Dagdeviren said.

The motivation behind this device was the death of a beloved aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 49, despite having regular screenings.

“Right after [the] diagnosis she could only survive six months,” Dagdeviren said.

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By her bedside, Dagdeviren sketched out her idea for a better way to monitor breast health.

“The idea for me at that moment was to relax and comfort my aunt and give her the hope for the future that she could survive and we could use this technology for later, however, she could not survive, but this technology hopefully will help many women like her,” Dagdeviren said.

The thought of helping millions of women has been a big help throughout this ordeal.

“It’s an amazing feeling to see how my technology is going to touch people’s lives and save people’s lives,” Dagdeviren said.

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