Smart Assistant for BREast ScreENing: a system that permits women to take an ultrasound breast screening trough a probe connected to their smartphones.
Spreading awareness and prevention
Breast cancer is the most frequent neoplasia in the female population. It is estimated that 1 out of 8 women, in their lifetime, will have to deal with it.
Moreover, in Italy, 13% of the cases concerns women under 40.
Currently, concrete help is offered bt SABREEN (Smart Assistant for BREast sceENing), the winner of the fourth edition of GoBeyond in the “best project for the Collectivity” category.
It’s a system designed by HTLab ( Healthcare Technology Lab), the innovative startup founded by vEyes, a non-profit company established in 2012 with the aim to design and develop technological tools for people with visual impairments, as well as innovative clinical diagnostic tools.
SABREEN allows to perform an ultrasound test trough a re-engineered probe connected to an Android smartphone. The tool is integrated with an artificial intelligence system that can to create a 3D model of the breast internal structure.
The device is therefore able to find the presence of suspicious masses, reporting them to a breast care center within the SABREEN network. In this way, a specialist can inspect the material sent by the neutral net, validate it and, if necessary, report to the patient the presence of an anomaly.
All this happens respecting personal privacy, without the use of images of the patient’s nude skin. Afterwards, the breast center contacts the woman trough a notification on her smartphone, without being able to know her identity. It will be her decision to go to the structure and make an appointment.
With the use of technologies like artificial intelligence, the integration with sensor, mobile phones, broad band and 5G, the system can introduce a more efficient methodology in the prevention of breast cancer. In fact, today, it is still entrusted to self-examination and periodical controls that include a breast check with an ultrasound screening.
Breast ultrasound is a diagnostic tool to check young breasts, generally in women under 40 or in fertile age, which present a very rich glandular component, hard to be radiologically examined with a mastography. In women after 50, SABREEN doesn’t lose its efficiency and could be still used for breast screening, even if a mammography would be recommended.
In many cases, prevention could help promptly diagnose the presence of a problem. “It is not all that simple- says Massimiliano Salfi, founder of SABREEN and president of vEyes- Three months ago we have started a survey, inviting women aged between 18 and 40 to answer some simple questions aimed at assessing the awareness around the problem.The data that emerged are alarming: out of 1300 women interviewed, 888 said they have never visited a breast specialist, and 185 only casually. Furthermore, 819 of them said to never carry out a self-examination”.
In order to raise more awareness on the problem, starting in March, the month dedicated to female prevention, “in collaboration with our partners like the Informatics Department of the University of Verona, the Institute of Oncology Research (IOR) of Bellinzona (Swiss), or the Pathology Diagnostic Department of the National Tumor Institute of Milan, joined by important partners like the Provincial Section of Catania of LILT (Italian League for the Fight Against Cancer), we will start a prevention program that targets young women. It will be the occasion for a breast screening, but the main purpose is to refine the artificial intelligence algorithm of SABREEN, so that it can keep learning by analyzing a series of cases (clinical or non-clinical), taking its reliability closer to 100%”.
“The award at GoBeyond certainly represents an important turning point for the project” – continues Salfi- not only for the obvious contribution that the sum of money has given to accelerating the work, but most of all for the visibility resulted from this award, that has motivated us to continue with our work, taking into account that the historical period we are experiencing is severely slowing down most of the activities related to the project, that obviously turns around the sanitary world, strained by the pandemic
On the other hand, however, it must be said that precisely this criticality, which for months has interrupted the screening program that could bring to the preventive diagnosis of cancer, and the awareness that prevention is the only really effective weapon to fight cancer – and not only breast cancer – has increased the attention level of operators and professionals towards a tool that could give an important contribution in saving a lot of lives”