MIT Professor Creates Bra-like Device to Detect Early Stage Breast Cancer

An MIT professor has developed a ultrasound device that can be worn like a bra to detect early signs of breast cancer. The technology was conceptualized when she lost her aunt to an aggressive form of breast cancer within months of diagnosis.

MIT Professor Creates Bra-like Device to Detect Early Stage Breast Cancer
MIT Professor Creates Bra-like Device to Detect Early Stage Breast Cancer

Conformable Decoders to Aid Screening

A team of researchers at MIT has created an ultrasound device called conformable decoders that can help detect breast cancer at an early stage. It is a small, flexible patch that can be worn on the breast along with a bra. It uses ultrasound waves to image the breast tissue, which a doctor can analyze for cancer signs.

The study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering found conformable decoders were able to detect breast cancer with 90% sensitivity and 85% specificity. This means the device was able to correctly identify 90% cases of cancer and 85% cases of non-cancer accurately. The researchers believe conformable decoders can be used as a home-based screening tool for breast cancer. This would enable women to get tested regularly, leading to earlier diagnosis and treatment.

Origins of The Breakthrough Invention

The scientist behind this invention is Dr Jelena Vuckovic from Turkey. She developed this technology along with her team at the MIT Media Lab. In an interview with CBS News, Dr Jelena revealed this is a wearable device that can easily detect breast cancer by sending ultrasound waves into the breast tissue to spot abnormalities like cysts or tumors.

She added this is designed for high risk women who frequently undergo mammograms. Not only does it involve high radiation but the process is also quite painful. This technology will provide mental relief to high risk women. Based on the device results, they can decide if they need to get a mammogram or not. While tailored for high risk groups, it can benefit anyone including men, she pointed out. It has the potential to save 12 million lives.

Origins of The Breakthrough Invention

As per a story on BBC Hindi, the idea to create such a device came to Dr Jelena’s mind when she was sitting next to her aunt at the hospital. Her aunt who would get routine examinations was diagnosed with an aggressive rapidly spreading breast cancer one day. She passed away just six months later.

This personal tragedy motivated Dr Jelena to think of a technology that could aid women. Thus emerged the concept of this bra-like screening device. It is a hexagonal patch with six bays to hold a small ultrasound camera that can image the breast tissue from different angles. It does not even require ultrasound gel for use and can detect nodules as small as 0.3 centimeters – the size of initially forming lumps.

How Does The Device Work?

The conformable decoder comprises a patch with small ultrasound transducers fitted into its bays. When worn on the breast, it captures ultrasound signals in a cross-sectional manner. This data is then converted into 3D images via algorithms. The images clearly highlight any abnormal tissue signatures indicating likelihood of a tumor.

Doctors can analyze these highly detailed images and compare them against past scans to identify suspicious changes and guide biopsy if required. The device is also capable of continuously monitoring high risk patients to trace disease progression.

Its wireless integration and ease of use at home sets it apart from traditional ultrasound systems. Dr Jelena’s research has brought hope for an accessible, non-invasive technology to catch breast cancer in initial stages and improve outcomes.

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