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  • Voltaire Staff

UK researchers working on wearable device for early detection of breast cancer


Scientists at the UK's Nottingham Trent University are working on a wearable device that could transform how breast cancer is monitored. The device, designed to be worn discreetly inside a bra, has the potential to detect tumour growth in real-time.


According to the researchers, the device will provide a convenient and accessible way for patients to monitor tumour development from the comfort of their homes.


Developed at Nottingham Trent University's Medical Technologies Innovation Facility (MTIF), the device uses electrical currents to detect subtle changes in tissue fluids around and within breast cells, which could signify the presence of a tumour.


NTU wrote, "A team in Nottingham Trent University’s Medical Technologies Innovation Facility is working to create the device, which it is hoped could help save patients’ lives in future by monitoring tumour growth in real time. The technology will work via a form of electrical current which can scan and detect tiny changes in fluids inside and outside of the cells."


The researchers propose that the device could be either a comfortable bra insert or seamlessly integrated into a new bra design. In either case, the device will collect data and send it to the wearer's smartphone, making it easier and faster to share this information with the patient's medical team.

The device works by distinguishing between healthy and cancerous tissue.


Tumours are denser and have less water than healthy tissue. This device can measure these differences in real-time, detecting growth as small as 2mm.


"The technology would measure changes in breast tissue and help improve a patient's chance of survival," said Dr Yang Wei, an electronic textiles and engineering expert at NTU.


"Breast cancer can grow so quickly; it could be 1mm in six months or 2mm in six weeks. This would be an additional measure to see how fast the tumour grows," Dr Wei added. The research opens the door to a new era of breast cancer detection.


Patients will have the ability to monitor early signs of cancer from home, which will save important hospital resources and provide a practical screening option.


The team aims for the device to reduce the necessity for additional checks like MRI, ultrasound, and mammograms and help patients save money on healthcare services.


"The hope is that the non-invasive technology – which the researchers say could be used as an insert into a patient’s bra or potentially developed as a new bra incorporating the device – would be used alongside patients’ treatment and other regular checks and scans, such as MRI," NTU said.

 

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