INNOVATIONS IN WOMEN’S HEALTH
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In the last few years, innovations in women’s health technology have surged to unprecedented levels. While there are too many innovations to discuss in detail, with Women’s Day last week, we thought we would take some time to discuss few innovations that have made the headlines over the last few years.
A zero-radiation wireless radar helps surgeons locate hard-to-reach breast lesions
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women worldwide. According to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), there were more than 2 million new cases in 2018.
Surgery remains the mainstay of treatment for most women with breast cancer. If cancer has just developed, surgery may be used to remove only a part of the breast. This is called a lumpectomy.
Before a surgeon decides to perform a lumpectomy, they should first precisely locate where a tumor has developed in the breast. Localization of the affected tissues is relatively easier if the lump is palpable (can be felt through the skin).
For non-palpable lumps, the surgeon may use a mammogram or ultrasound to place a thin wire in the breast that guides the surgeon to the affected area. This process, wire localization, has been the most commonly used tool since the 1970s.
However, wire localization has many disadvantages. For example, wire breakage, a risk of wire displacement, and patient discomfort among others.
SAVI SCOUT®: An Effective Alternative to Wire Localization
California-based Cianna Medical, Inc.’s SAVI SCOUT® is a device that is devoid of these disadvantages. The FDA-approved device uses a nonradioactive infrared (IR)-activated reflector to be placed at the affected area.
During the procedure, the surgeon scans the breast using a hand piece attached to the console. The console emits infrared light and a radar signal. By receiving the signals reflected from the reflector, the device helps to locate the target tissue.
The US Food and Drug Administration approved the device in 2014. So far, several studies have found that SAVI SCOUT® is effective and has a high success rate in the localization of nonpalpable breast lesions.
One major advantage SAVI SCOUT® has over other non-wire devices such as radioactive seed localization (RSL) is that it does not use any radioactive substance. Besides, its close competitor, the Magseed system, is relatively new and no scientific studies have yet demonstrated the latter’s effectiveness.
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Artificial ovary in the making
Danish scientists have successfully developed an artificial ovary using ovarian follicles and ovarian tissue from women who were due to have cancer treatment.
Though this is an early advance in the process of developing artificial ovary for human use, the scientists call this technique “exciting”.
Women who receive treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy have an increased risk of becoming infertile. The currently available fertility preservation treatment is called an “ovarian tissue transplant”.
In this procedure, doctors remove the entire ovary or a part of it before cancer treatment begins. Then, they freeze it. Once the treatment is over, women may be able to use it in the future.
However, the problem with an “ovarian tissue transplant” is that the frozen ovary may contain cancer cells. This slightly increases the risk of cancer returning.
In the new technique, the scientists removed ovarian follicles and ovarian tissue from women who were due to have cancer treatment. Then, they cleared cancer cells from the ovarian tissue and grew ovarian follicles on the remaining mass of tissue.
When transplanted into experimental mice, the artificial ovary supported the growth of the ovarian cells, reports BBC News.
Experts say the new technique has a couple of benefits over the traditional fertility preservation treatment.
First, it would allow women to get pregnant “naturally” unlike IVF (in-vitro fertilization). In IVF, fertilization takes place in the lab and the fertilized egg is placed back in the womb.
Second, it might eliminate the need for hormone replacement, as women with artificial ovary will be able to have normal periods in the future.
While it has yet to be tested on humans, it does look promising
A new point-of-care device aids osteoporosis screening and diagnosis
Osteoporosis causes brittle bones that are prone to a fracture. The risk is high among older women. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), it affects nearly 200 million women worldwide.
Osteoporosis takes several years to develop and is likely to be undiagnosed in many cases. Usually, the diagnosis is made when a person visits a doctor after breaking their bone following a minor fall or slight bump.
Currently, doctors use the Bone mineral density (BMD) test to diagnose osteoporosis. Of many types of BMD tests, DXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) is most frequently used. However, these tests are costly and available only in selected large hospitals.
To overcome this challenge, Finland-based Bone Index Finland Ltd. developed a revolutionary device called Bindex®. According to the manufacturer, Bindex® is highly sensitive and the results are comparable to those of DXA.
The device, which measures cortical bone thickness in 30 seconds, can be connected to a laptop or desktop. It is inexpensive, easy to use and offers a reliable way to measure bone density virtually at any place.
A variety of medical specialists treat people with osteoporosis, including internists, gynecologists, family physicians, endocrinologists, rheumatologists, physiatrists, orthopedists, and geriatricians. It is advisable to discuss your concerns with a primary care physician or family doctor. They may treat you, or help refer you to the correct doctor.
- World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). Breast cancer statistics. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- MedlinePlus. Breast lump removal. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- SAVI SCOUT® Radar Localization System. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- Clinical Imaging. SAVI SCOUT® localization of breast lesions as a practical alternative to wires: Outcomes and suggestions for trouble-shooting.
- ScienceDaily. New epigenetic cervical cancer test has 100 per cent detection rate. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- Cancer: Disease Control Priorities, Third Edition (Volume 3). Chapter 4 Cervical Cancer.
- American Family Physician. Pap Smear vs. HPV Screening Tests for Cervical Cancer. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- International Journal of Cancer. Evaluation of a validated methylation triage signature for human papillomavirus positive women in the HPV FOCAL cervical cancer screening trial.
- About Natural Cycles. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- CDC. Effectiveness of Family Planning Methods. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- BBC News. Artificial ovary fertility treatment developed by scientists. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF). Facts and Statistics. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- Bindex®. Retrieved March 6, 2019.
- WebMD: Do You Need a Specialist for Osteoporosis? Retrieved March 11, 2019.
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