Tactile breast screening by visually-impaired show promise o
What is tactile breast screening?

As a technique it uses the highly developed sensory skills of visually-impaired women for manual breast health screening called Medical Tactile Examiners (MTEs) who use strips of tape called ‘docos’ marked with Braille coordinates, the technique, originally introduced in Germany about 10 years ago, has been gaining traction in India ever since its launch here.

Such has been the rise that over the last four months, MTEs have been able to detect pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions in around 17 women. Their findings were affirmed medically by radiological tests, according to a validation study started by the CK Birla Hospital for Women (CKBHfW), Gurugram and National Association for the Blind (NAB) India in March 2019, with support from Bayer Crops Science Group in India in collaboration with Discovering Hands, Germany.

As per the study, more than 500 random women from Gurugram and other parts of Delhi NCR underwent TBE; along with breast ultrasound for those less than 40 years and mammogram for those more than 40 years of age.

Could tactile breast screening be effective in detecting breast cancer?

According to the study results, the initial trends suggested “very high level of sensitivity for detecting breast lesions”. “Changes were detected in 30 per cent women, 40 per cent of which were confirmed by radiology and 20 per cent had cancerous or pre-cancerous changes. Majority of them were still at stage I and stage II. Overall 3.5 per cent of women were detected with lesions that could have affected them adversely,” the study read.

“The MTEs are able to detect lumps as small as 0.5-0.6 mm compared to when it is escalated to a size of 1-2 cms which can mostly be detected through a clinical examination,” said oncologist Dr Mandeep Malhotra from CKBHfW.

Commenting on the findings emerging from the study, Dr Malhotra said, “The country is witnessing a steady rise in incidence of breast cancer (11.54 per cent, Globocan 2012) and also mortality due to the disease (13.82 per cent, Globocan 2012). In urban areas, one in 22 women are likely to suffer from breast cancer during their lifetime. Of these, 50 per cent may not survive within five years of diagnosis. Inadequate screening and advanced stage of presentation are the contributors to the rising death toll. Early detection by effective screening protocols is the possible solution.”

How is tactile examination done?

The examination by MTE involves dividing the breast region into a four-part grid using strips which cover the breasts, underarms area till the ribs, neck and back. The examiner then slowly feels her way along this grid using the Braille-enabled tapes and records the findings digitally on a computer. It also involves recording of risk factors for breast cancer including family history, teaching women how to do SBE, and encouraging them to undergo timely radiology.

Source: https://pxmd.co/jNebC
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