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Device to detect breast cancer at home wins British design award

A tool for DIY breast cancer detection, designed by two recent graduates, has won the UK James Dyson Award that celebrates, encourages and inspires the next generation of design engineers.

The Dotplot device helps women self-check at home and track on an app any changes they may find. Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK but many women do not carry out regular self-examinations.

Users build a personalised map of their torso by inputting their breast size and shape and pressing the handheld device over their chest. Once a month, soundwaves are used to record tissue composition – and if there are any suspicious changes or abnormalities, users are advised to see a healthcare professional.

The technology is very similar to mammograms for over-50s or ultrasound scans offered to women worried about a lump, reports BBC News.

Debra Babalola and Shefali Bohra, recent innovation design engineering graduates at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, co-founded Dotplot after Bohra discovered an unusual knot, which turned out to be harmless, in one of her breasts.

“We started to talk to clinicians and we spoke to loads of women,” she said. “We realised that women are looking for a way that not only tells them what has to be done but also teaches them how and why breast self-checks are supposed to be conducted.”

“We’re not replacing medical professionals, we are enabling women to be confident in the self-checks they are doing,” said Babalola.

Oncologist Dr Frankie Jackson-Spence said: “Obviously, it’s in the early stages of development, so it does need to go through medicine regulatory device checks to make sure it is actually adequate at detecting breast cancers. But it isn’t a substitute for going to your doctor – it doesn’t diagnose anything.”

The five-year survival rate for stage-one breast cancer is about 95%, which drops to about 25% by the time the cancer is in stage four.

At least 64% of women aged 18-35 fail to regularly check their breasts, say Cancer Research UK and CoppaFeel.

“It’s important you check all over the breast, including up into the armpit and up to the collarbone,” said Jackson-Spence.

Dotplot will now progress to the international stage of the James Dyson Award, with the winner announced on 16 November.


BBC News article – Tool to spot breast cancer at home wins UK Dyson award (Open access)


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