The Home-Testing Device Hoping to Shine a Light on Breast Cancer Screening

This years International Dyson Award has been won by Judit Giró Benet from Spain, who has created ‘The Bule Box’; a home-testing kit for breast cancer detection.

According to statistics from Breast Cancer UK, in 2017 around 54,700 new cases of breast cancer in women and 390 new cases in men were diagnosed.  Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK population, representing 15% of all new cancer cases in 2017.

The rate of it’s increase has be steady over the decades with a 23% increase of breast cancer diagnosed in women between 1993 and 2017.  Rates among men have remained broadly stable during this time frame.  To add some context to these numbers, around 1 in 8 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.

Breast cancer screening is available via the NHS with automatic screening parameters inviting women from their 50th birthday through to their 71st birthday every three years.  Eligibility criteria is not set in stone though; with some women being offered screening prior to their 50th birthday if they are deemed to be at a very high risk of developing breast cancer.

Regardless of these figures, it is well known that many women opt out of breast screening, and it is anticipated that around 40% of women skip their regular mammogram.  Added to this are the further restrictions that Covid-19 has placed on services and resources.  Breast Cancer Now estimate that round 986,000 women have missed their scheduled mammograms due to screening programmes being paused and the backlog that this has created across the whole of the UK.  Even harder figures to digest are those suggesting that due to the pausing of screening UK wide, with around 8,655 of undetected breast cancers during this time frame.  Although UK screening has now restarting it is evident that this pause and backlog will have significant ramifications far and wide.

It has long been understood that the screening process; although vital to ensure our overall health and wellbeing, is one that some women feel too uncomfortable to attend or feel that they are either too busy or perhaps don’t consider themselves to be at risk.  Either way, with so many choosing not to attend, could The Blue Box provide a more attractive way of increasing screening participation?

The Blue Box works by carrying out analysis on urine samples. An AI-based algorithm is able to detect specific metabolites within the sample and advise the participant with a fast diagnosis. If necessary, a fast link via an app is able to provide the patient’s medical professional with the results of the test and therefore provide a speedier route for diagnosis. This non-invasive way of screening is hoped to revolutionise the uptake of screening and therefore the overall benefits this can bring.

With still much to do from a developmental front and further rigorous trials required, The Blue Box is still some way off from being a trusted feature in our homes.  However, these initial positive steps and recent win could see The Blue Box as light at the end of the breast screening tunnel and help bridge the gap in those currently opting out.


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