Breast Cancer: 'Access to detection remains a key challenge'

New Delhi, Asanna Gonmei | Updated : 29 November 2018, 06:37 PM
Access to early detection of breast cancer remain a key challenge for most women in developing and third world countries (Image: Ramesh Negi /NewsNation.in)
Access to early detection of breast cancer remain a key challenge for most women in developing and third world countries (Image: Ramesh Negi /NewsNation.in)

Breast cancer is a major health concern the world over and the most common cancer among female population in India’s urban areas, according to a Health Ministry report. It states that the rate is as high as 25.8 per 100,000 women and by 2020, as many as 17,97,900 women in India may suffer from breast cancer. In view of the increasing incidences of breast cancer, early and accurate detection is important to curb the mortality rates. However, access to early detection of breast cancer remain a key challenge for most women in developing and third world countries.

“There are two worlds when it comes to treating breast cancer: the developed world, which has access to early detection and treatments, and the developing world, where access to even detection remains a key challenge leading to high mortality rates," says Mihir Shah, Founder and CEO, UE LifeSciences.

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While the rich can vail advance medical facilities for early detection and proper treatment of the fatal disease, the large population of poor in India are still unable to afford detection and treatment and many continue to succumb to it. The mortality rate among females due to breast cancer is 12.7 per 100,000 women, according to the Health Ministry report. Amid the struggle and challenges, Mihir Shah, a Computer Engineer from Drexel University, has developed an affordable breast cancer detection device - iBreastExam™ (iBE).

Speaking exclusively to NewsNation ahead of his talks at TEDxGateway on December 2, Mihir stresses the need for “safe and acceptable” breast cancer tetection device and bust the myths surrounding breast cancer, saying most women who have the life-threatening disease have no family history.

Busting the myths surrounding breast cancer

“There are quite a few myths. For example, a common myth is that if you have a family history of breast cancer, you are likely to develop breast cancer, too. The truth is that while women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history.

“Statistically, only about 10 per cent of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease. Other few myths you hear at times are that breast cancer is contagious or that antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer. Not true.”

Where India stands today in dealing with breast cancer patients

India still has a low breast cancer survival rate, with only 66.1 per cent women surviving the disease between 2010 and 2014, according to Lancet study. However, the country today is "much better equipped than many other countries to provide breast cancer treatment. Most metros have oncology treatment centres and more are opening every year”.

But the challenge remains. There is an urgent need for safe and affordable detection tool. After all, “early detection and treatment directly correlates with better recovery and longer survival”.

More importantly, the detection method should be acceptable to women

“We are yet not a preventive-health minded society. I think it would be easier to change that behaviour if the tests were to be more accessible, safe, affordable and really acceptable to women. No one likes tests that painful, that exposes us to radiation and the ones that go against our basic expectations as a consumer i.e. light on the pocket, conveniently available (maybe even at home) and does not take a lot of time”.

The innovative and game-changing technological breakthrough

“iBreastExam™ (iBE) is a game-changing technological breakthrough for countries and regions with rising incidence of breast cancer, most cases presenting at late stages and limited to no access to early detection for most women. iBreastExam™ harnesses the power of innovative sensor technology, software computing and mobile revolution, such that a doctor or any health-worker can offer objective and effective breast examinations, with ease and comfort”.

How does iBE work? How safe and affordable is iBE?

“iBreastExam uses an innovative piezoelectric ceramic sensor that can assess tissue elasticity in real time. Tumours are harder than normal breast tissue and the sensors in the device can ‘feel’ them out, quickly and without any pain or radiation. UE LifeSciences trains qualified personnel employed by these healthcare providers to offer the iBreastExam test to women who are seeking a safe and objective breast health exam. Some of our select partners are: Manipal Hospitals, Narayana Health, MyCliniCare, W Pratiksha Hospital, UniHealth, Biocon Foundation, YouWeCan Foundation, Dhruv Diagnotics, Portea, and many more”.

The Reliability: How effective and accurate is the detection by iBE?

“iBreastExam is recognised by the World Health Organisation as an Innovative Health Technology. The device is cleared for commercial use by the world’s toughest regulatory standards such as US FDA, CE Mark, COFEPRIS and others. Our manufacturing facilities are ISO 13485 and WHO GMP certified. In clinical studies with over 10,000 women enrolled, iBreastExam has demonstrated high sensitivity of over 84 per cent, specificity of over 94 per cent and negative predictive value of over 98 per cent. The device is able to detect small, non-palpable breast lesions as small as a few millimetres in size.”

The need for objective and effective breast examinations, with ease and comfort

“iBreastExam breast health check-up does not cause any pain or discomfort during the test. It does not make use of any ionizing radiation. The device, as stated above is found clinically effective per various clinical studies and has passed many stringent regulatory hurdles, hence effective,” Mihir adds.

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Come December 2 and Mihir, Innovator & Entrepreneur, is set to inspire millions with his talks at the 10th edition of TEDxGateway to be held at DOME@ NSCI Mumbai. The theme this year is – ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’. The platform that brings masterminds together from various walks of life, each having an extraordinary story to tell, is expecting over 150,000+ viewers.

First Published: Thursday, November 29, 2018 02:25 PM
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