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New Device Aids in Breast Cancer Detection

Women may have a new, more convenient way to screen for breast cancer, one of the leading causes of death among females. Medical researchers have developed a hand-held device that women can use at home, and they say the new technology could save thousands of lives.

Tentatively named the "iFind," the breast cancer-screening device is about the size of a deck of cards.

Though still in its developmental phases, doctors such as H. Kim Lyerly of Duke University are enthusiastic about the device, which women can use privately, at home. "It's a handheld device that would allow a woman with interest in self detection to use something more sophisticated than just a self-exam."

Developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the iFind uses near-infrared light to monitor blood oxygen levels in breast tissue. Malignant, or cancerous tissue requires more blood--and if such an area is detected by the iFind, the device emits a tone or beep.

In addition to being easy to use, testing of the iFind shows it to be accurate for early detection of breast cancer.

Dr. Dennis Slamon, of the University of California at Los Angeles medical school, say he's impressed. "The ability to determine an abnormality is in excess of 90 percent and the specificity, the ability to be specific to a malignancy, is greater than 90 percent."

Medical experts say the iFind is not a substitute for mammograms or biopsies. They say the objective is to give women a chance to accurately monitor breast health, and get to a doctor as early as possible if something is wrong.

The experts also say the iFind could benefit thousands of women because it will be relatively inexpensive, retailing for around $100 if it is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.