For 18-year-old Farheen Jahan, life took an ugly turn when she discovered a stiff growth in her breast. However, initial blood reports failed to detect anything serious. Later, in a health camp clinic set up in her locality in rural India she got herself scanned again with something called iBreastExam – a diagnostic tool designed to perform painless and radiation free breast scans, providing results instantly at the point of care.
The scan detected abnormal tissue in her breast. After an ultrasound and biopsy confirmed a malignant lump, she underwent an operation to remove the mass and today lives a healthy life.
“The technology is path-breaking to say the least. It has given me a new lease on life; I shudder to think what would have happened had my breast lump remained undetected,” says Jahan.
Breast cancer is currently the most common form of cancer in Indian cities. According to statistics found on the Population Based Cancer Registry, breast cancer accounts for 25% to 32% of all cancers reported by females in Indian urban areas. What’s more alarming is the survival rate of breast cancer patients in India which stands at a mere 50% compared to 90% in the U.S.
Why the startling difference? Patients turning up at advanced stages of the disease for treatment is one of the main reasons for the high mortality rate among women in India. High costs for medical checkups, low awareness of the disease and shyness on the part of patients are some other factors leading to delay in checkups.
Aiming to bridge the gap in this segment of Indian healthcare, developers Mihir Shah along with Matthew Campisi, built iBreastExam in the hopes of normalizing breast cancer prevention across India.
How it all happened
It all started with a personal motivation for Shah when a family member of his was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I enquired with my friends and they all knew somebody who was either a breast cancer survivor or undergoing treatment for it. I then realized the magnitude of the problem.”
In a country where there’s a shortage of doctors, let alone radiologists (there is one radiologist per 100,000 people in India), iBreastExam has everything it takes to be a major disruptor in India’s healthcare sector; it can examine 100,000 patients at the same cost that a mammogram tests 15,000 patients. The scan is a hand-held tool that enables community health workers to perform breast health examinations in virtually any setting, not just hospitals. “Mammography isn’t feasible in India due to high equipment cost and the lack of radiologists,” says Shah.
iBreastExam uses patented ceramic sensors developed at Philadephia’s Drexel University, Shah’s alma mater, to detect subtle variations in breast tissue. Shah developed his first breast scan device while abroad in the U.S.
But while the technology was there, portability was not. He had initially developed a product that was too bulky. Shah started selling it in the U.S to doctors but realized that for it to be successful in India it had to be smaller in size. “I was looking to create something that could be carried in a hand.”
Powered by WPeMatico