This new device, integrated into the bra, could enable more frequent monitoring of patients at high risk for breast cancer.
When breast cancer is discovered in its earliest stages, the survival rate is about 100%. However, for tumors found at a later stage, this rate drops to about 25%.
To increase the overall survival rate of breast cancer patients, MIT researchers have developed a wearable ultrasound device that could enable individuals to locate tumors while they are still in their early stages. Patients at high risk of developing breast cancer may find this device particularly useful among routine mammograms.
This tool is a flexible patch that can be attached to a bra and allows the user to move an ultrasound tracker across the patch to view breast tissue from various angles. Recent work by the researchers showed that ultrasound images can be acquired with the same resolution as ultrasound probes used in medical imaging facilities.
“We've changed the form factor of ultrasonic technology so you can use it in your home. According to Canan Dağdeviren, senior author of the study and associate professor at the MIT Media Lab, this technology enables real-time and user-friendly monitoring of breast tissue, and is portable and simple to use.
The study, published Monday in the journal Science Advances, was co-authored by MIT graduate student Wenya Du, research scientist Lin Zhang, Emma Suh '23, and Dabin Lin, a professor at Xi'an University of Technology.
A wearable device for diagnostic purposes
The inspiration for Dağdeviren to create this venture was her deceased aunt Fatma Çalışkanoğlu, who was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer at the age of 49 despite routine cancer screenings and tragically died six months later. A rough design of a diagnostic tool that could be placed inside a bra and would allow for more frequent screening of people at high risk of breast cancer was drawn by Dagdeviren, then a postdoctoral researcher at MIT, at her aunt's bedside.
Between 20 and 30 percent of all breast cancer cases are interval cancers, which are breast tumors that show up between routine mammograms and are more aggressive than those seen on regular scans.
Dağdeviren's research team specializes in creating wearable electrical devices that adapt to the body. “My goal is to target people most likely to get interval cancer,” he explains. Our goal is to increase the survival rate to 98 percent with more regular screenings.
To bring the diagnostic bra concept to life, Dağdeviren has created a small ultrasonic scanner that can be used for imaging at any time. The ultrasound scanner used in this device is based on ultrasound technology used in medical imaging facilities, but has been scaled down thanks to a unique piezoelectric material.
To make the device wearable, the researchers created a flexible, 3D-printed patch with honeycomb-like holes. This patch can be attached to a bra with openings so that the ultrasonic scanner can contact the skin using magnets. The entire breast can be photographed using an ultrasound scanner that fits inside a small tracker that can be adjusted to six different settings.
The scanner does not need to be operated by an expert and can be rotated to take pictures from various angles.
"This technology provides a fundamental capability in the detection and early detection of breast cancer, which is key to a positive outcome," says Anantha Chandrakasan, dean of the MIT School of Engineering, Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and one of the study's authors. “This work will use advances in materials, low-power circuits, artificial intelligence algorithms and biomedical systems to significantly advance ultrasound research and medical device designs,” he explains.
The MIT Center for Clinical and Translational Research helped researchers test their device on a single human subject, a 71-year-old woman with a history of breast cysts. The cysts, which are the size of an early-stage tumor and 0,3 centimeters in diameter, were found by the researchers using the new instrument. They also showed that tissue could be scanned to a depth of 8 centimeters and the resolution of the device was comparable to conventional ultrasonography.
Early detection and diagnosis largely depends on access to high-quality and affordable healthcare. As a nurse, I saw firsthand the harmful effects of a delayed diagnosis. According to Catherine Ricciardi, director of nurses at the MIT Center for Clinical and Translational Research and one of the study's authors, this technology promises to remove many of the barriers to early detection of breast cancer by providing a more reliable, convenient and less frightening diagnosis.
Researchers currently have to connect their scanners to the ultrasound machine used in imaging centers to view ultrasound images. However, they are currently working on a miniature display device whose dimensions are similar to a smartphone.
The wearable ultrasound patch can be worn repeatedly, and the researchers hope that people at high risk for breast cancer who could benefit from routine screening will use it at home. It can also help diagnose cancer for those who don't have frequent access to screening.
According to Tolga Ozmen, a breast cancer surgeon and study author at Massachusetts General Hospital, breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women and can be cured if detected early. “Women's commute to an imaging center is one of the biggest barriers to imaging and early detection. The compatible ultrasound tape, which eliminates the need for women to go to an imaging facility, is a very promising medical innovation.
The aim of the study is to create a methodology that will allow artificial intelligence to analyze how photographs evolve over time after data on a subject is collected. This approach can provide more accurate diagnoses than relying on a radiologist's evaluation of images taken years apart. They also plan to explore changing ultrasound technology to scan different body parts.
📩 31/07/2023 12:45