A breast-screening smart bra which allows users to detect breast cancer at the earliest stage is being developed by the Centre for Materials Research and Innovation (CMRI) at the University of Bolton.
Professor Elias Siores (pictured), inventor of the smart bra, says it can detect cancer before the tumour can develop and spread into the surrounding areas. It can also evaluate the effectiveness of any breast cancer treatment its wearer is undergoing.
The bra is being developed with support from international partners. Professor Siores says he expects the bra to go into manufacture within the next couple of years.
The smart bra works using a microwave antennae system device which can be easily woven into the fabric of the bra.
The antennae picks up any abnormal temperature changes in the breast tissue, abnormalities associated with cancer cells. Information about each breast is collected and transferred via conducting polymers. A separate controller unit analyses the information and sets off an alarm if the normal breast tissue temperature is exceeded.
Said Prof Siores, Director of CMRI:
'Early detection gives women more confidence in the preliminary assessment stage and those with breast cancer the highest survival prognosis.
'The cancer detection is based on the principle that metabolic activity and vascular circulation in both pre-cancerous tissue and the area surrounding a developing breast cancer is almost always higher than in normal breast tissue.
'This process results in an increase in regional internal and external temperatures of the breast. The microwave antennae has high sensitivity and can detect these temperature variations, which are the earliest indications of the breast cancer and/or a pre-cancerous state of the breast.'
Smart bra data will be easy to interpret for the wearer since the audible and/or visual alarm will alert them to the potential need for further medical expert diagnosis and assessment.
Said Prof Siores: 'There are no health risks associated with this form of passive microwave technology. It is not only very safe but also very cost effective. We would not expect the unit cost to be much above the average cost of a traditional bra.'
The university's partners in the smart bra's development are: RES Ltd, Russia; Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters Association (ITKIB); the Greek national health service, IKA, and the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC).
Notes to editors
Female breast cancer is the most common cancer in women
1,050,346 new cases of breast cancer were reported worldwide in 2000 (Globocan 2000)
Incidence of breast cancer is increasing in most countries
Incidence is highest in North American and North Europe and lowest in Asia and Africa.
In countries where rates have been low, especially in Asia, the rate of increase is the greatest.
Based on estimates of the USA National Institutes of Health, overall costs for cancer in the year 2000 was $180.2 billion