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First Warning Systems Smart Bra

First Warning Systems Smart Bra

New smart bra promises earlier diagnosis of breast cancer…

A new smart bra that can detect the early signs of breast cancer, hopes to replace the mammogram as a more effective way of diagnosing and treating the disease.

The new First Warning Systems smart bra, developed by Reno, is a “completely painless, non-invasive, highly accurate method of early breast tissue abnormality screening.”

It uses a unique sensor detection technology, built on 20 years of breast cancer research, to read slight changes in the breast and diagnose the early signs of a tumor.

Breast cancer affects more then 1 million women each year, of whom more around 400,000 will die as a result of the disease. It’s estimated that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some stage in their life, and for all those who do, early detection is still the key to survival.

Mammograms have repeatedly proven themselves as being far form accurate. After 9 mammograms the risk of receiving false results is 43 percent. This is mainly due to the fact that the technique can only spot tumors once they have reached a certain size.

However, once developed, tumors are known to double in size roughly once every 130 days – some take less time, but many take longer, especially in older women – which means the disease can go from treatable to fatal very quickly. Women under 40 also have denser breast tissue, which makes it extremely hard to spot tumors in their early stages.

These factors only allow for a very small window of opportunity to diagnose the cancer using mammograms, and although MRI scans can spot tumors earlier, the technique is invasive and expensive and is typically reserved for use in conjunction with mammograms.

When it comes to treating the disease, early detection is so critical because once the first cancer cell mutation occurs it can take almost 11 years for a tumor to develop to a noticeable size. Within just 3 years, whilst the tumor is still practically undeveloped, there are already 10 million cancer cells present. Stopping the disease in these early stages, before the cancer cells actually become a visible tumor, results in a near 100 percent survival rate.

The First Warning Sytems sports bra works by detecting slight differences in temperature within the breasts. To support the growth of cancer cells, the body builds abnormal blood vessels, which create a heat signature as the blood flows. This small temperature variation is detectable long before a tumor is visible to a traditional mammogram or MRI.

Normal body temperature fluctuates, during the day, so the bra must worn through the day in order for the sensors to calibrate themselves sufficiently to read the minute temperatures that indicate an abnormal change.

The data is then uploaded to the Internet where a complex algorithm performs its analysis and displays the results in an easy-to-read format for the user. Studies on the technology show it to be accurate over 90 percent of the time.

Reno hopes to commercialize the system in Europe in 2013, and after receiving FDA approval, hopefully in 2014 in the U.S.

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  1. Elizabeth Armstrong Moore: How a smart bra could one day outdo the mammogram. Cnet, 10/10/2012.

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