This robot-assisted digital 360 degree breast thermography device may help detect breast cancer at an early stage

Keeping a watch on the crab is the only way to eliminate it before it hits you hard. A regular breast cancer screening—whether by self-examining the breast or undergoing radiological tests—is the only way to detect the most common cancer in women at an early stage.

Breast cancer ranks number one cancer among Indian women. One in 28 women gets breast cancer and one in two die due to late detection. But despite many breast cancer awareness programmes, doctors say that not many women come for screening on a regular basis.

They say there could be three reasons for it: many women may weigh harmful radiations they get exposed to during mamography vs the benefit of screening, especially when they don’t have a family history. Some women find mammography a very painful process. Then there are women who feel uncomfortable exposing their breasts for screening.

The new thermography device–Illumina 360 by Cura Health– might address all three inhibitions a woman generally have while going for a regular breast cancer screening.

The breast is a highly complex and one of the most difficult- to- image human organs as it varies in symmetry, density, size and morphology. The breast tissue is unique due to the mechanism of the mammary vessels and skin temperatures. Substantial changes could occur in a woman’s breast during hormonal changes at different stages of life.

Measurement and studying of breast skin temperature and its response to hot and cold challenges in a controlled environment, plays an important role in early detection of breast anomalies.

Thermography can detect the subtle physiologic changes in the breast that usually occur in case of cancer, fibrocystic disease, or an infection

Thermography can detect the subtle physiologic changes in the breast that usually occur in case of cancer, fibrocystic disease, or an infection. “A tissue’s temperature rises in case of an infection or tumour. It is the first change to take place in case of an abnormality. In many cases, it alerts a person months in advance,” says Dr Sandeep Jaipurkar, consultant radiologist, Vijaya hospital, Chennai.

Though it is not a new technique, the new device—Illumina 360—is an improvised version. Designed, developed and manufactured in India with the support of Department of Biotechnology, the government of India, it has more accuracy.

“The accuracy of earlier thermography machines was hardly 60 percent, the camera used to focus on the breast from one angle, thus missing the changes happening in the denser and deeper tissues. Illumina 360 is 96 per cent accurate,” says M Bala Subhramanium, CEO, Cura Health.

The new device consists of a table which has a small hole that allows breast to suspend freely downwards. A rotatory camera fitted below the table then takes pictures of the breast at every 15 degree. It provides 360 degree view of the breast.

It also takes into account the temperature of the surroundings, which may have an effect on the results in case of a conventional thermography machine. The new test is done in a thermally insulated room to avoid any temperature variation during the test.

The technique has other added benefits too: it is radiation free; doesn’t require any compression of breast; provides privacy.

Since mammography is prescribed for above 45 years age, thermography may help detecting breast cancer in younger women.


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