Nedra Lindsay of Fairborn, OH, gives the First Warning bra credit for detecting her breast cancer early — and for saving her life. She wore the device at age 25 as part of the initial study. At that young age, she says breast cancer was the furthest thing from her mind.
But the First Warning bra indicated she had cancer. Nedra underwent three different, increasingly invasive medical tests that were reviewed by three independent medical investigations. All confirmed the initial diagnosis made by the First Warning bra.
Nedra's surgeon told her that under normal circumstances, her cancer likely wouldn't have been noticeable till she was closer to age 37. By then it could have progressed to a dangerous level. Nedra points out that under her insurance plan a mammogram wasn't even covered till she turned 40. Indeed, mammograms for women under the age of 40 are almost useless because the breast tissue in a younger woman is typically very dense.
Now aged 45, Nedra is alive and cancer-free.
Cancer-detecting technology built into a bra
According to Dr. Ronald Fletcher, Chief Investigator of the study and previous Director of Oncology at Greene Memorial Hospital in Xenia, OH, "Cancer is probably the most curable of all diseases — with the proviso that it's caught early enough." He points out women under the age of 44 aren't likely to be screened, but nearly 11 percent will eventually be diagnosed with breast cancer that will have already progressed to a late stage.
In fact, it's young women who usually have the most aggressive types of breast cancer. Tumors found in women under age 40 grow the fastest but are hardest to detect. And the sad truth is, roughly 6.5 percent of the victims will die as a result.
But if those tumors can be detected early, there's a nearly 100% survival rate.
That's where the First Warning System comes in. It detects cancer cells years before those cells can be seen on an MRI or mammogram. It uses patented sensor-detecting technology that is painless, non-invasive, and highly accurate.
To the naked eye, it just looks like a sports bra.
The First Warning bra works by detecting minute temperature differences in your breast tissue. It's these fluctuations in temperature that indicate a possible cancer abnormality. When a cancer tumor starts to grow, your body builds a system of new, albeit abnormal blood vessels. The increased blood flow to the area creates something called a "heat signature" within the tumor. This small temperature variation occurs several years before the tumor itself is visible on a mammogram or MRI.
But normal body temperature fluctuates throughout the day and varies from woman to woman. To account for that, the First Warning System needs to maintain constant contact with the body throughout a testing period of at least 24 hours. That's why a tight-fitting sports bra is ideal. Sensors located in the cup area of the bra stay in direct contact with the breast for as long as necessary to get a good temperature reading.
The sensors collect data that is sent to the Internet, and from there the data is analyzed by complex algorithms and delivered to a trained doctor. You get to see the results, too, either through your computer or mobile device.
So far, three clinical trials have shown an accuracy level of more than 90 percent for the First Warning System. As a screening tool, it's much more accurate at a gratifyingly earlier point in time.
It's cheaper, too, coming in at around $200. Mammograms cost as much as $300 but are only effective after a tumor has reached a detectable size. Even then, you've got the false positive issue. But the First Warning System bra not only detects early-stage tissue abnormalities, it also reduces the false positives that are causing women so much angst.
One step forward in the healthcare maze
This "magic bra" could be a massive step forward in easy breast cancer detection and early intervention. It should prove especially useful for women with dense breast tissue who are severely limited at present when it comes to diagnostic tools. (We've written before about how mammography and ultrasound are virtually useless for dense breasts, though few women know whether they have dense tissue and so aren't aware of their higher risk level — see Issue #198.)
Here's a quick update on that note — beginning in April of 2013, California will be the 5th state mandating that physicians tell patients whether they have dense breast tissue. Eleven more states, as well as the federal government, have legislation pending. This is a significant step forward because it means more women will be made aware that their dense breast tissue significantly lowers the effectiveness of mammograms.
By the way, if you're ever diagnosed with breast cancer, you should read our Special Report Breast Cancer Cover-Up. It tells you the best natural and alternative treatments (and also the best tests — but not the First Systems bra, which hadn't come out yet at the time the report was written.)
Navigating the American healthcare maze is a nightmare. Breast Cancer Cover-Up can help. And with advances like the First Warnings bra, we can look forward to new ways to find cancer at a very early stage, when it's easy to treat.
If you haven't been reading Cancer Defeated for long, you may wonder, "Who needs this new breast cancer test? Don't mammograms do the job?" Glad you asked. Let's take a look. . .
A second opinion that came too late
Just last week, a study from the Annals of Family Medicine revealed a shocking new statistic: As many as 60 percent of abnormal mammograms turn out to be false positives. These are cases where the breast X-ray says the woman has cancer, but she doesn't.
ABC News with Diane Sawyer underscored this revelation, reporting recently on a woman who had an abnormal mammogram three years ago. The biopsy that followed revealed she had cancer. Because the woman's mother, sister, and three aunts had previously been diagnosed with breast cancer, she opted for a double mastectomy — the most radical treatment available.
But in the messy process of getting her insurance provider to cover expenses, the woman had to hire a lawyer. The lawyer sent her original biopsy out for a second opinion. The cancer expert who gave the second opinion said the woman never had cancer in the first place. Both mammogram and biopsy got it wrong.
Unusual? Not really. Another new and unsettling study shows as many as 4 percent of biopsies are misread — affecting as many as 10,000 women a year.
While this woman was thrilled to learn she was cancer-free, she'd also sacrificed both breasts to medical error.
It's a horrifying story, but it's not unique. Because mammograms can detect smaller lesions than ever before, an accurate cancer diagnosis has become much harder to make. That's led to an increase in false positive mammograms. Most of those are followed by a biopsy. And as noted, those are subject to error as well, although much less often than the X-rays.
In the best of cases, women with a false-positive mammogram — even where breast cancer is ruled out — experience as much as three years of lingering anxiety about having a close brush with cancer.
In the worst cases, the false positive results are taken all the way to the surgery table, with heartbreaking results like the example above.
So always, always get a second opinion — and do it BEFORE moving forward with any treatment option. If your doctor is any kind of decent human being, he or she will welcome another set of eyes.
These findings highlight the pressing need for improved screening tests. That's why the First Warning Systems bra is such welcome news.