April 16, 2024

Scientists are developing a device that fits into a bra and can monitor whether a breast cancer tumor is growing.

Researchers hope the device will provide a new non-invasive method of detecting tumor growth that patients can use “in the comfort of their own homes”.

The device, which is being developed by Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) Medical Technology Innovation Facility, will use an electrical current to scan and detect small changes in fluids inside and outside cells in the breast.

Because tumor tissue is denser than healthy tissue and contains less water, the device will be able to measure tumor changes and growth in real time down to as little as 2 mm.

Researchers say the device could be used as an insert in a patient’s bra or developed as a new bra that incorporates the device, which would record data and send it to the wearer and their medical team via smartphone. The team behind it aims to move the device to clinical trials within the next few years.

“The technology will measure changes in breast tissue and help improve a patient’s chance of survival,” said Dr Yang Wei, an expert in electronic textiles and electronic engineering at NTU. “Breast cancer can grow so quickly; it can be 1 mm in six months or 2 mm in six weeks. This will be an additional measure to see how fast the tumor is growing.

“We are opening the door to exploring an alternative breast cancer screening that can be done in the comfort of a patient’s home, saving vital hospital resources, while still providing a viable solution for picking up early signs of cancer track.”

According to Cancer research, there are more than 55,000 new cases of breast cancer in the UK each year, and more than 11,000 deaths. Of the new cases, around 23% are preventable.

Researchers hope the device will improve the essential work of monitoring tumors, which can be difficult to do precisely, especially in the case of those measuring less than 1 cm. MRI scans can be months apart, with the possibility of significant growth between hospital visits.

Dr Simon Vincent, the director of research, support and advocacy at Breast cancer nowsaid research into better detection and treatment of breast cancer is urgently needed.

“While this new technology may offer a new way to monitor the growth of breast cancer tumors and we look forward to seeing the final results, the device has not yet been tested on humans and there is much more we need to understand. before we can consider whether it can be used in medical settings or not,” he said.

“Anyone affected by breast cancer can speak to Breast Cancer Now’s expert nurses by calling our free helpline on 0808 800 6000 for information and support.”

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