Forget specially trained dogs. Now, there’s a high-tech “wonder bra” that may be able to detect cancer by tracking fluctuations in breast temperature.
A group of Colombian scientists claimed to have created a bra that can detect malignant cells, and ultimately, breast cancer, the Mirror reports.
The bra, which is equipped with special software and infrared sensors, monitors breast temperature, tracking changes in temperature that occur throughout the day. In healthy breast tissue, there is typically a wide range of fluctuations that occur within a 24-hour window. Malignant breast tissue, meanwhile, typically maintains a relatively even temperature throughout the day. By picking up on this change early, the bra aims to help wearers catch cancer close to the time of onset, before it spreads and is difficult to treat.
Researchers from the National University of Colombia began working on the project last June. To date, the bra has been tested on 500 women, with a 87 percent accuracy rate for detecting tumors. That’s a small sample size, but the company is slated to start large-scale clinical studies in California, India and Singapore.
The device still has a few kinks to work out, however. For example, users must wear the bra for a long period of time for an accurate reading. Analysis could also potentially be skewed because of events like hot flashes.
Though specialists see the potential for a device like this in the future, some like H. Gilbert Welch, a professor at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine and the author of Less Medicine, More Health are still skeptical pending further research.
“It is way too early to suggest that monitoring circadian temperature changes in the breast will help anybody," Welch told SmithsonianMag.com. “While it’s tempting to believe 'newer is always better,' this is a totally untested technology that may well prove to produce more harm than good.”
Still, as the scientists behind the bra stress, the goal isn’t to replace a doctor or regular screenings, but to add another tool to help fight the disease.