Monday, August 24, 2015

Blind Women as Experts in Breast Cancer Detection

Early detection and treatment of breast cancer significantly increases a women's chance of survival. Traditional methods such as mammograms and routine doctor examinations are not optimal. Mammograms are usually not given (or paid by insurance) to women under 50, even though 20 percent of breast cancer is detected in this population demographic. In addition, routine physician exams are not standardized and usually take around 5 minutes. 

Discovering Hands trains visually impaired women with their highly developed sensory skills to detect the early signs of breast cancer. These exams (30 minutes) are conducted by specially trained blind women (MTEs) in conjunction with a physician. Preliminary results are encouraging. Studies show that the MTEs detected 30 percent more and 50 percent smaller tissue alterations in the breast than doctors and also did slightly better than mammograms. Equally important, the Discovering Hands projects saves money, provides employment to the visually impaired, and detects cancer early.

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