As many of you may know, October is breast cancer awareness month. According to the American Cancer Society, a woman in the US has a 1 in 8 chance of developing this disease. It is also the second leading cause of death for women, and they estimate that 1 in 37 women will die from breast cancer. As a result, this month is often paired with a reminder for women to get an annual mammogram and perform self-examinations.
Unfortunately, mammograms are not widely available in all parts of the world due to the equipment used (some form of x-ray). Even in countries where the equipment is more readily accessible, a sizeable portion of the female population does not have a mammogram performed (recent US stats). Additionally, mammograms have a number of limitations that include false-positives, false-negatives, and radiation exposure, while sometimes only detecting cancer once a patient is in stage 3 or 4 of the disease. When one reads numbers like that, you can often be left feeling dismal about the current state of battling this deadly disease impacting millions of women world-wide.
However, when these type of potentially discouraging numbers exist, we know there is opportunity for vast improvement if new technologies and approaches are incorporated. Believe it or not, Rob Royea of Cyrcadia Health has already begun an interesting step in early detection of breast cancer with the iTBra. The iTBra is a wearable placed inside a bra and has built in censors for monitoring and detecting changes in temperature (circadian metabolic changes) of breast tissue. What’s more, the iTBra shows promise as being particularly beneficial for women with dense breast tissue, who are most likely to be impacted by breast cancer. After wearing the bra for two hours, the data can be run through an algorithm and the results can be presented to a physician for analysis.
As with other IoT devices, significant value can be derived when the cloud and big data are used to collect and analyze the data from a large collection of devices. When more women across a variety of demographics use this or similar devices, data collected and added to the set of information available for study. As the data set for analysis increases, the probability of accurately detecting breast cancer at an early stage becomes more likely. Additionally, with the proliferation of such a device, cost will come down and be more readily accessible to portions of the world that do not have easy access to traditional mammography resources. This type of network effect – where the more that people use something the more valuable it becomes – is the ideal in utilizing IoT devices like the iTBra to transform people’s lives for the better.
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