Is a bra that detects breast cancer finally becoming a reality?

We're still very much in the early stages of introducing wearable technology to our wardrobes — but a newly developed medical device called the First Warning System is showcasing its incredible potential. Worn like a sports bra, and equipped with sensors, AI, and pattern recognition software, the device can reportedly detect angiogenic activity — cell temperature changes that are associated with breast cancer.

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People have been trying to create a bra that detects breast cancer since the 1970s, when NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher and friends filed a patent for one. Now at last, it appears that this dream could become a reality.

From the company's website:

Illustration for article titled Is a bra that detects breast cancer finally becoming a reality?

The system is a non-invasive breast physiology screening system, much more sensitive and much more cost effective than mammography. The platform has applications for both OB/GYN and primary care in-office use, as well as potential use as an over-the-counter (OTC) diagnostic system.

Three preliminary clinical studies in more than 650 women have been completed yielding compelling results, demonstrating an average accuracy of 92.1% (percentage of correct classification), an average sensitivity of 94.7% (true positive cases), and an average specificity of 91.1% (true negative cases). In comparison, the specificity and sensitivity of the gold standard mammogram averages 70% and the accuracy of interpretation is completely subject to the skill and ability of the reading radiologist.

Given that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, this "smart bra" is definitely a good idea — and an excellent indication of where wearable technology is headed.

H/t Medgadget.

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DISCUSSION

Dr Emilio Lizardo

Near as I can tell, this is bullshit. It seems to work via thermography, an imaging technique approved by the FDA only because it is safe, not because it is effective. No major organization in the world that makes screening recommendations recommends thermography as screening for breast cancer. The American College of Radiology specifically recommends against it and they would be the ones making money off the tests if it worked. False positive rates are as high as 25% and false negatives are as high as 60%.

I don't know where the high sensitivity and specificity quoted here come from. The only study I find on pubmed does not support the company's claims.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16584542

The website is light on data and heavy on ways to invest. The most scientific looking paper is their white paper - not exactly peer reviewed.

So, two pieces of advice: save your money, get your mammograms.