Breastlight is a new handheld device for women to use at home to help them become more aware and confident about their breast health. Research shows that regular use, in conjunction with the recommended ‘touch, look and feel’ breast health routines, can help in the early detection of benign and malignant breast abnormalities.
Breastlight allows women to see inside their breasts. The device works by shining a very bright but harmless red LED light through breast tissue. Veins and other blood vessels show up as dark lines, the ‘map’ which is normal. If a woman detects other dark spots or shadows, this is generally an indication that there is an abnormality. This could be the stimulation of blood vessels (angiogenesis) that occurs when a tumour is developing or it may be a benign lesion such as a bruise or blood filled cyst. In all cases, it is recommended that these are followed up by a doctor where a clinical diagnosis can be made.
Breastlight - a modern and compact illumination device - has undergone extensive clinical and market testing with over 1,200 women to date. In a study, Breastlight detected 65 out of 95 diagnosed tumours (73%). This figure increased to 83.8% when tumours were over 2cm. Most interestingly, 28.6% of tumours considered non-palpable were still picked up by transilluminationi.
Sunderland City Hospital is currently conducting a trial on Breastlight in their symptomatic breast clinic. Patients presenting with symptoms are being examined with Breastlight before their standard clinical assessment. Breastlight findings are then compared with results from mammography, ultrasound or biopsy. Interim results with 150 patients showed that Breastlight was 100% effective in detecting confirmed malignant tumoursii.
The accuracy of Breastlight is coupled with confidence in the product. In a user study of almost 1,200 women, 80% of women said they felt more confident when using Breastlight in addition to their existing routineiii. The survey showed that, before Breastlight, 34% of women did not check their breasts regularly (less than once every three months). After trying Breastlight this number was reduced to just 10%. And regular checkers, once a month or more, increased from 44% to 76%.
Dr Sarah Burnett, consultant radiologist at King Edward VII Hospital London, is a former breast cancer patient who had a mastectomy and breast reconstructive surgery. Dr Burnett campaigns for mammograms to be available from 40 and is a firm supporter of Breastlight:
"As both a doctor and a woman who has had breast cancer, I am always happy to welcome any product that increases breast awareness. Breastlight has the potential to help detect abnormalities earlier and can make women feel more confident in their own breast assessment. “
Breastlight is currently available online at www.breastlight.co.uk and is priced at £84.99.
i Brittendon et al 1995. Brit. J. Radiol. 68, 1344-1348
ii Interim results from 150 patients: Sunderland City Hospital
iii User Study available at www.breastlight.co.uk