New cancer screening bra raises criticisms

by | Oct 25, 2012 | News

Just over $14-million has been invested into smart bra research, and another $5-million is expected to be invested. COURTESY FIRST WARNING SYSTEMS

By Kelly Snider

Women may be able to screen themselves for breast cancer, by wearing the everyday sports bra.

First Warning Systems, of Reno, Nevada, has designed a “smart bra” they say  has sensors that look deep inside breast tissue for temperature changes, which indicate tumors are being fed by expanding blood vessels.

In what would be a physician-prescribed bra, there is a recording unit and sensors.

Matt Benardis, a project consultant for First Warning Systems,  told Humber News the recording unit is like a USB flash drive, which stores data  a physician can download to a computer.

“After the bra is worn for 12 hours, the device is returned to the physician,”  Bernardis explained. The recording unit “sends the data to a central reading service, where the data is reviewed, and results are sent back to the physician.”

Not everyone is convinced the device is a replacement for more traditional screening methods.

“Based on available evidence, I think the vast majority of doctors will agree that a woman who chooses any breast cancer screening test based on temperature measurements, instead of mammography, would be making a serious mistake,”  Ted Gansler, a medical doctor and editor of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, said in a report on

Benardis says First Warning is not looking to  replace the mammogram, but to supplement existing screening methods for women aged 18 to 40 –  “a group of individuals where the mammogram is not as effective.”

He said the bra could be worn once a year as a part of an annual check up.  But ” the goal is to have it worn once a month, which will provide more accurate results.”

Marsha Davidson, executive director of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada,  had not heard of the smart bra, when contacted by Humber News.

“I wouldn’t abandon traditional methods, but if trials for this product are successful then it can be another breast cancer detection method,” said Davidson.

Bernardis said more than  600 women, have participated in clinical trials and there has been a 90-per-cent accuracy rate in detection.

The cancer-detecting bra is tentatively slated for release south of the border in 2014, following successful completion of the trials program. It will cost around $200, Bernardis said.

A Canadian release date has yet to be decided.