New Technology Seeks to Teach Proper Self-Breast Exam Techniques

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women. While early detection increases chances of survival by up to 90%, only 25% of women perform self-breast exams. New technology is working to increase those numbers.

10 Newtons is a company that works to perfect the measure, analysis and science of touch.

Dr. Carla Pugh, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at 10 Newtons has studied the self-breast exam technique for 17 years, which led to her invention that aims to teach healthcare providers and women the proper way to check for lumps.

“Everyone does it differently, but the most important factor is the amount of force that you use when you’re doing the exam,” Dr. Pugh said.

In scientific terms, that force is measured in Newtons. Dr. Pugh realized that the only way to know if you’re using enough Newtons of force is to feel it for yourself. Her BEST (Breast Exam Sensory Training) Touch simulator measures the palpation pressure on a life-like model.

“All of those models have a sensor on the bottom of the rib cage, or what we call the chest wall, of the model. And when you’re touching, you get real-time feedback as to where you’re touching it, with how much pressure,” Dr. Pugh said.

Each breast on the simulator has a hidden lesion. The challenge is to find it and identify the spot on the computer.

“There’s this iterative training and feedback that says ‘press harder’ or ‘you’re doing it correctly,'” Dr. Pugh said. “Within 10 minutes max, 5 minutes for most people who didn’t get it right in the beginning, they’re able to figure out, ‘Wow, okay. I didn’t know that that’s how I was supposed to do it.'”

10 Newtons also uses the simulator at medical conferences to train on technique and learn from those who perform successful exams every time. That research has shown that using a linear pattern, rather than a circular one, is more successful in finding lesions.

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