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High-tech 'Smart Bra' could replace mammograms

 A cancer-screening bra developed by American scientists has proven more accurate than the current gold standard mammogram in clinical trials. (First Warning Systems) Updated October  22: Since this blog post was originally posted, experts have questioned the claims of this product.

"At this time, based on evidence currently available, I think the vast majority of doctors will agree that a woman who chooses any breast cancer screening test based on temperature measurements, instead of mammography, would be making a serious mistake that could have fatal consequences," said Ted Gansler, a medical doctor who is the editor of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, published by the American Cancer Society.  The quote appeared is a story on the website TechNewsDaily. The National Breast Cancer Coalition has also questioned the science behind the bra.

Originally Posted October 17:
By 2014, women may be able to screen themselves for breast cancer painlessly, effectively, and constantly without even lifting a finger.

A high-tech "smart bra," designed to help save lives by monitoring breast tissue for abnormalities, is in its final stages of testing after four years of development.

So far, the device has a 92.1 per cent level of accuracy when it comes to classifying tumors, according to the team of scientists behind it. Mammograms currently diagnose correctly at approximately 70 per cent.

Developed by a U.S. biotechnology company called First Warning Systems, the smart bra contains precise sensors that measure minute temperature changes which occur when blood vessels grow to feed tumors.

This data collected from the censors is processed by a piece of proprietary software. It uses a custom algorithm to look for changes and signs that a tumor may be present and growing over time.

These temperature changes are so small that it would normally take years before a woman could feel anything on her own by performing a self screening, or even before a mammogram could detect them.

In one a clinical trial performed by First Warning Systems with over 650 participants, the smart bra was able to detect rumblings of a tumor six years before a mammogram could.

 A graphic found on the company's website shows the progression of a breast cancer tumor in relation to point of detection. (First Warning Systems)

"Early detection of breast cancer is important as it is associated with an increased number of available treatment options, increased survival, and improved quality of life," reads the company's website.

"Because of its non-invasive nature, the protocol can replace a monthly BSE (Breast Self Exam). Expectations are to have the FWS protocol become a standard part of a physical exam much like many other risk assessment vital signs tests."

If upcoming clinical trials yield similarly positive results, the bra could be commercialized in Europe as early as next year.

First Warning systems hopes to have the bra ready for a US launch in 2014, pending FDA approval.

The retail price for the device has not yet been announced, nor has anything been mentioned about whether or not the product will be available in Canada.

What are your thoughts on a high-tech, breast tissue screening bra? Would you buy one for yourself or a loved one if you could?

Tags: POV, Science & Technology

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