Pinktober spotlight: The Femtechs fighting breast cancer
Femtechs, or, feminine technology companies, aren’t just in the business of bringing products to women — some are using the power of technology to help combat the most nefarious disease in the world — breast cancer.
October puts the spotlight on breast cancer, which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), affected 7.8 million women in the past five years alone.
In 2020 alone, 2.3 million women were diagnosed with the disease, and 685,000 deaths were recorded globally. Men are also affected, but at a much smaller percentage at 0.5 – 1% of cases.
Breast cancer awareness month, also known as Pinktober, began in 1985. Since then, years of research and technological advancements have led to higher survival rates following early detection and diagnosis and better cancer treatments and management.
Unfortunately, there still exists a disparity between the rich and the poor when it comes to detection and treatment — and some femtechs are aiming to reduce this gap.
Breast Cancer in Southeast Asia
According to Statista, breast cancer made up 27.7 percent of all the new cancer cases in women in Southeast Asia, with approximately 159,000 new cases in 2020. Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer amongst all Asian countries — one in every nine Pakistani women develops breast cancer at some stage of her life.
When it comes to treatments, it is heading towards a more individualized approach as not all breast cancers are the same.
From screening and diagnosis to in-treatment and post-treatment, get to know some of the current and emerging tech available through solutions from these femtechs:
Braster is a breast examination system that allows you to do regular self-checkups at home. Using it is easy; just apply the Brasta device on your breasts which can take about 15 minutes, depending on the size of your breast. It captures thermographic images of your breasts to detect any changes with a higher temperature than normal tissues. The temperature differences show up as a colorful map which you then send to the Braster Telemedical Center for analysis through the accompanying free mobile app. There is even a Braster Pro version for healthcare professionals.
- Cyrcadia Health
The Cyrcadia Breast Monitor measures the breast tissue’s circadian temperature over time. It involves wearing two smart patches inside your bra for six to 24 hours. Data is collected using a machine learning predictive analytic software developed with the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore. It identifies and categorizes abnormal heat changes patterns within the breast cells, indicating the presence of tumor cell activities. The data is then transmitted to Cyrcadia Health core lab for analysis via your smartphone, and the results can be delivered to your physician as well.
- iSono Health
The team of experts at iSono Health developed the first portable and automated 3D breast ultrasound scanner globally, the ATUSA. Simply attach the wearable accessory, lie down and let the physician, nurse, or medical assistant adjust the area of interest before attached the scanner. With a press of a button and a minute of your time, the image of the whole breast volume is automatically done. Yes, approximately one minute only. Then repeat the process for the other breast if required. You can view the 3D visualization of your breast in real-time through its Windows application,
Thermaiscan combines a detachable thermal camera, artificial intelligence, and a smartphone to provide a portable and non-invasive tool for pre-screening and risk-assessment purposes. Plugin the pocket-sized camera onto the smartphone, scan and let the AI detect and analyze any abnormalities. This cost-effective solution is faster than manual analysis and is suitable for use on younger people and dense tissue.
- Volpara Health
Volpara Health is an intelligent breast screening software used by over 2,000 facilities for early detection of breast cancer. Its clinically validated software assesses breast cancer risk using AI and machine learning. Its idea to quantify breast composition via volumetric parameters (where the company got its name) began in 1992, but it was only established in 2009. Since then, it has analyzed over 45 million mammography images and has assessed the breast composition of more than 13.5 million women across 39 countries, making it a world leader in automated breast density assessment.
Endomag products use magnetic sensing technologies to mark tumors more accurately for a more precise surgery. There is no radiation and no wires. The Magseed marker is a tiny seed implanted in the breast or marked lesion, detected by its accompanying Sentimag probe. The Magtrace, meanwhile, is a liquid tracer with tiny magnetic particles used to perform radiation-free sentinel lymph node biopsies. Inject once from as early as seven days before the surgery to as little as 20 minutes prior, and the Sentimag localization system detects its pathway. Since the target cancer area or spread can be more defined, it helps reduce the operation’s invasiveness.
EZbra is a breast dressing suitable for use after all breast procedures, be it lumpectomy, mastectomy, or reconstruction, reduction, lift, or augmentation. The post-operation bra is customizable to fit the users’ requirements from breast design and definition to drain management. In addition, it is sterile, disposable and adhesive-free, and comes with adjustable compression making it an advanced option for primary wound care and recovery.
The NACgraft technology from Bioaesthetics uses biologically-derived collagen graft to reconstruct a new, natural, living nipple and areola. Its patented nipple-areolar complex grafting process is an innovative nipple replacement solution derived from the advancement in biomaterial technology. Once the graft is put in place, the patient’s cells will grow into a new, complete NAC that looks natural.
That’s because it is, and since it is the patient’s living tissue,immune-suppressing drugs are not necessary to minimize rejection as required in traditional tissue graft and organ transplant procedures.
- Lattice Medical
Lattice Medical collaborated with the CHU Lille (Lille University Hospital in France) to develop a patented soft tissue engineering and reconstruction technology using 3D-printed bio-materials. As a result, breasts can be reconstructed completely utilizing the patient’s adipose tissues with no foreign materials using Mat(t)isse bioprosthesis, a bio-resorbable tissue engineering chamber (TEC). As a result, it would only take one surgery to get the desired breast size. This regenerative medicine solution is currently in the pre-clinical development stage.
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