Early breast cancer detection is critical to improve chances of survival. Sometimes it's found after symptoms appear, but many women with breast cancer show no symptoms. Now, a teen in Mexico, top prize winner at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, has designed a smart bra that acts as an early warning system to detect cancerous tumors via disturbing changes.
— Julian Rios Cantu. (@JulianRiosCantu) June 30, 2016
Julian Rios Cantu, 18, along with three friends, developed the EVA bra, which is currently at the prototype stage, through his company Higia Technologies. The cancer-detecting bra is believed to work with approximately 200 biosensors that would measure temperature changes and weight and shape of breasts; log them in an app; and warn users of any changes, Forbes Mexico reported.
For example, if the bra detects a higher temperature in the breast, it could imply this is due to increased blood flow in the area, possibly because of a growing tumor.
Women only need to wear the bra for 60 to 90 minutes a week to get accurate measurements.
Cantu's inspiration to develop the smart bra is based on his mother's previous breast cancer diagnosis. At age 13, his mother nearly died after doctors found the lumps to be malignant. Six months later, a second mammography detected the lumps to be cancerous, and in the end, both of her breasts were removed.
"There I realized the tremendous instability of the current methods of detecting breast cancer. Then I started investigating, " Cantu told Forbes Mexico.
The young engineer has garnered the attention of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.
— Enrique Peña Nieto (@EPN) May 3, 2017
Currently, Rios Cantu and his team are starting with certifications of Cofepris and the FDA, and will be ready to start selling the EVA bra in late 2018 or mid-2019. The team also reached a deal with the IMSS to use them as a clinical testing base at a National level. Although it's at a very early stage, the young engineer has hope his design will "become the first portable device in the early detection of breast cancer."
The bra has not yet fully been tested, and awaits clinical trials before experts can recommend it as a way to detect cancer. Moreover, experts like Anna Perman from Cancer Research UK told BBC: "We know that tumours often have an abnormal system of blood vessels, but we also know that increased blood flow isn't necessarily a reliable marker of cancer."
Women should not use this bra until the technology has been tested in good-quality scientific trials. Until then, women are advised to follow the 5-step breast self-exam once a month. Women should wait several days after their period ends, when the breasts are least likely to be swollen and tender. Those who no longer have periods are recommended to pick a day such as the first or last of the month.
If Cantu's smart bra is approved, it could potentially help 12 percent of women in the U.S. who will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime.