Breast cancer is one of the main health concerns that women face in this day and age. For many, learning of a family member’s cancer diagnosis can be absolutely devastating. For others, it can bring about a moment of inspiration.
Julian Rois Cantu is an 18-year-old student from Mexico. After his mother nearly died of breast cancer, he invented a device to detect the breast cancer early and hopefully save millions of women.
Julian Rois Cantu’s Story
Julian’s mother became sick with cancer for the second time when he was 13.
“The tumour went from having the dimensions of a grain of rice to that of a golf ball in less than six months. The diagnosis came too late and my mother lost both of her breasts and, almost, her life,” he explained in a company video.
When he was 17, Julian and three of his friends designed a bra that had the ability to diagnose breast cancer in its early stages.
The Lifesaving Invention
The “breast cancer bra” uses 200 tactile, temperature, and light sensors that map the surface of the breast and surrounding areas. These sensors monitor changes in the color, texture, and temperature of the breasts and send this information to an app on the patient’s phone. This data can then be shared with an oncologist.
“When there is a tumor in the breast there is more blood, more heat, so there are changes in temperature and in texture,” Julian explains. “If we see a persistent change, we will recommend that you go to the doctor.”
Putting the technology in a bra makes it convenient and easy to use. It also ensures that the breasts are in the same position for every test. Best of all, the “Eva” bra only needs to be worn for 60-90 minutes a week to get accurate measurements.
Thanks to their new invention, Julian and his team won the top prize at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards and the accompanying $20,000 reward. Plus, at 18 years old, he’s now the CEO and co-founder of his own biosensor company, Higia Technologies.
It may be a few years before the bra hits the market as it still has to undergo extensive testing. Regardless, Julian is hopeful and looks forward to launching the product.
However, Anna Perman from Cancer Research UK told the 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.
“At present, there is no evidence to show whether this bra is a reliable way to detect tumours, and it’s certainly not a good idea for women to use technology that hasn’t been tested in good-quality scientific trials.
“It’s great to see young people like Julian getting into science and having ideas that could help with cancer diagnosis. But an important part of science is rigorous testing, to make sure innovations like this actually benefit patients.”
Catching Breast Cancer Early
While you wait for breast cancer technology to catch up, there are a few tools you can use to examine your breasts.
Doing regular breast self-examinations are an easy way to detect any changes in breast tissue in between regular medical exams. Women who have a family history of the disease should examine themselves even more regularly.
Taking some medications, such as Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) and prescription diuretics may also increase your breast cancer risk.
You can find out how to perform a self-examination here. Make sure to perform your self-exam twice: once while standing up and once lying down.
While mammograms are seen as an essential part of breast cancer examinations, they have their risks.
In fact, a 25-year follow-up to a 5-year study published in The British Medical Journal determined that in younger women, annual mammography doesn’t reduce the risk of death from breast cancer any better than regular self-examinations. In addition, 22% of active cancers found were over-diagnosed by mammograms.
What’s more, mammograms are known to expose breast to cancer-causing radiation and often result in false positives.
If you suspect you may have a lump in your breast, ask you doctor for an ultrasound instead, which is 80% more sensitive than a mammogram. Plus, it doesn’t smash your breast uncomfortably like a mammogram machine does. Another great option is thermography.
Exercise And Diet
The best way to prevent breast cancer is to exercise, eat right, relax, and get enough sleep. In fact, one study found that obesity, lack of exercise, and eating to0 many saturated fats increase your risk of all cancers. That’s partly because these bad habits negatively impact your hormone levels, increasing your risk or breast cancer.
Eating plenty of antioxidant and inflammatory foods is also a necessary part of preventing and recovering from cancer.