A program called Discovering Hands that trains visually impaired women to detect early signs of breast cancer is being expanded across Germany and Europe.
The program, that began its testing stages in 2006, aims at training these women, who already have superior sensory skills, to use them to detect small lumps that would otherwise go undetected by regular screening methods.
According to the World Health Organisation, 60,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed with 18,000 of these cases becoming terminal. Whilst early detection can reduce this, there are still limited options for screening methods for women under 50 – who make up 20 percent of cases worldwide.
This is where Discovering Hands can offer its services. The women are trained for nine months as ‘Clinical Breast Examiners’ where they are taught diagnostic examination techniques and skills to operate in medical facilities across Germany.
Preliminary clinical studies have revealed a 50 percent increase in the successful rate of detection, over that of doctors, with 30 percent of diagnosis being in smaller tissue alterations.
A study, set to be released later this year, will delve further into the scientific findings, especially to do with mortality rates and the benefits of early detection.
For now, the social implications for disability, to become capability, is forward thinking and immensely empowering for a large community.