Portable breast cancer screening device advances

    A Drexel University’s professor’s invention for breast cancer screening is one step closer to the market.

    The portable and radiation-free device will make screening easier where mammography is not widely available. That means even women in the most remote areas of the world may soon have access to breast cancer screening.

    Inventor Dr. Wan Shih is a breast cancer survivor. She said some women, especially in Asia, see a breast cancer diagnosis as a death sentence. The mortality rate is almost 50 percent because detection is so late in the progression, Shih said.

     “With a low-cost, portable device, this can be readily available, much cheaper and it can go into remote areas, rural areas,” she said. “Bring it to the woman rather than women come to the big clinics in big cities.”

    She said the device, which is licensed by Philadelphia- based UE Life Science, will be available in other countries within three years before it comes to the U.S.

    The University City Science Center, a nonprofit organization, helped fund development of the device. President and CEO Stephen Tang said funding projects such as Shih’s helps bridge the gap between academic research and commercial development.

    “Now that this invention can come to life, it has the potential to affect many lives,” he said. “It allows for breast cancer detection in areas of the world where they can’t afford current mammography instruments or equipment and, particularly for Asian women who tend to have dense breast tissue, help better detect breast cancer in that population,” he said.

    The hand-held device uses a sensor that works like electric fingers to detect even the tiniest of lumps. It is so sensitive, Shih said it can differentiate between cancerous tissue and benign lumps.

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