Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US have developed a new wearable ultrasound device for the earlier detection of breast cancer.

Designed to improve the overall survival rate for breast cancer patients, the new scanner is intended to identify patients at high risk of developing breast cancer in between routine mammograms.

It’s a flexible patch that attaches to a bra, enabling the wearer to use an ultrasound tracker to image the breast tissue from different angles.

In the latest study, the researchers demonstrated that they could achieve ultrasound images with a resolution like the ultrasound probes utilised in medical imaging centres.

The researchers collaborated with the MIT Center for Clinical and Translational Research and evaluated the device with a 71-year-old woman who had a medical background of breast cysts.

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With the aid of the new device, they identified cysts as tiny as 0.3cm in diameter, equivalent to early-stage tumour dimensions.

For making the device wearable, a flexible, 3D-printed patch has been designed with honeycomb-like openings.

With magnets, this patch can easily attach to a bra with skin-contact openings for the ultrasound scanner.

The scanner can be positioned within a small tracker, designed to be easily repositioned to six different locations, enabling comprehensive imaging of the entire breast.

Intended for operating without any specialised expertise, the scanner can rotate to capture images from various angles.

MIT Media Lab associate professor and the study’s senior author Canan Dagdeviren said: “We changed the form factor of the ultrasound technology so that it can be used in your home. It’s portable and easy to use and provides real-time, user-friendly monitoring of breast tissue.”