The Department of Defense is the second largest funder of breast cancer research in the US. The following is taken from the press release from “Era of Hope” meeting held this week by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program:
A hand-held device in development may one day allow women to screen themselves for breast cancer in the privacy of their homes. The device, tentatively named “iFind,” monitors the differences in blood oxygen ratios in growing cancers and normal tissues, reported researchers from the University of Pennsylvania. If it picks up potential early signs of breast cancer, it alerts the user with either a light or a vibration.
“It’s important to know that this would be part of a breast exam, not a full diagnostic device,” explained Britton Chance, Ph.D., emeritus professor of physics and radiology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in Philadelphia, and developer of the device. “It would provide an indication of early signs of breast cancer that need to be followed up by a doctor.”
The device measures oxygenation rather than blood volume to detect hypermetabolism — the speedier growth rate of cancer cells. The prototype breast cancer detector performed with a positive predictive value of about 93%, which the researchers describe as a remarkably successful test for detecting breast cancer. Reliance on near-infrared light makes it a safe technology as well; women can use it as frequently as they wish. The study was conducted over a six-year period at two sites.
“This equipment gives women an opportunity to take charge of their own health, and it only requires minimal training,” said Dr. Chance. “The device also has a longitudinal memory, so if something suspicious is flagged, the woman can bring the device with her to her doctor who will have results from every time it has been used…”
In addition to the hand-held imager, Dr. Chance is developing an imaging tool intended for use in a clinical setting rather than at home.
The prototype device designed by Dr. Chance, was previously known as NIRScanner™ (after extensive search of the internet, we were unable to find pictures of iFind–“I cann’t find iFind” situation). The device was demonstrated earlier by Dr. Chance to Philadelphia’s NBC10, and can be seen in the video on this page.
HealthDay has more info on the device and news from the meeting here…
More info on NIRScanner™ is here (.pdf)…