There is no denying that breast cancer has been a devastating experience for a lot of people. For some, it has meant the loss of a loved one; for others, it has been a case of supporting a friend through a difficult diagnosis; and for some, it has been a personal battle.

1 in 8 women

has a chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime

685 000 deaths

caused by breast cancer worldwide in 2020

2.3 million women

diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020

A need for safe and accurate breast diagnostics

There are several limitations to traditional methods of breast screening. While mammography remains the gold standard for breast cancer diagnostics, its efficiency drops to as low as 50% in women aged under 40 years with dense breast tissue. One the main disturbing disadvantages of this kind of diagnostics is the fact that it uses doses of ionising radiation to create images. Other standard diagnostic methods, like ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), have several drawbacks as well. Ultrasound, for instance, has a high false positive rate and cannot image areas deep inside the breast. The most sensitive breast cancer detection modality, MRI, is often unaffordable or simply unavailable. Also, it can easilycascade into more medical services and diagnoses, causing unnecessary harm and cost. At the same time the World Health Organization (WHO) states that when breast cancer is identified and treated at its initial stages, it can have a cure rate close to 90%. It is thus obvious that early detection saves lives. So it becomes evident that there is a great need in a harmless and effective screening technology. The ThermoBreast screening modality has all chances to become this solution. It’s imaging technology includes a risk-free, non-contact, and cost-efficient screening, that is applicable to women of any age and breast density, aiming to detect the disease at its earliest stages. ThermoBreast’s unique approach presents an opportunity to unlock the potential of dynamic thermography, significantly improving breast cancer prevention, diagnostics, and monitoring.
image depicting a breast thermogram

AI-Based dynamic thermal imaging

ThermoBreast introduces safe, new vertical in breast cancer screening using AI-based dynamic thermal imaging. The screening is performed with a next-generation thermal imaging device, developed by the project coordinator ThermoMind Ltd. It includes highly sensitive infrared sensors that can detect temperature differences up to 0.02°C. These are the most sensitive sensors that are used in defence sector, that has been customised by ThermoMind to be robust when screening in the clinical setting and accurate for its specific use of measuring body temperature dynamics. The device is designed to screen the entire chest and armpits area of the body without repositioning or any contact with a patient. It is easily operated by a certified technician or a nurse. The sensors capture thermal streams over time to analyse thermal recovery rates of different areas. Why it is important? Because a malignant lesion changes the vascularity and metabolism in its vicinity due to cancerous growth, which appears as an anomaly or an asymmetry in the dynamic thermal map. An important component of the screening, which makes the system truly innovative, is advanced artificial intelligence. The captured thermal streams undergo an algorithmic pipeline and AI analysis designed to interpret dynamic thermal patterns and detect potential cancerous activity. This way, the system offers an excellent means of identifying areas of interest within thermograms and marking those for physicians to inspect. This predictive power of AI-based thermal imaging can enable cancer detection even before a tumour has formed. The ThermoBreast screening can be equally applied for women in all age groups and breast density. Due to its harmless, comfortable screening and instant analysis, it will be possible to implement better patient monitoring programs.
image depicting the Vision One thermal imaging device
Vision One thermal imaging device

A joint effort to improve breast cancer diagnostics

Adding a new vertical in screening and diagnostics that is patient-oriented is a challenging task. It includes a collaborative effort from all stakeholders, from clinicians to scientists to patients to policy makers to payers. The EU-funded ThermoBreast project brings together multidisciplinary top experts around the world from clinical to research to technology design. The project plans to validate the clinical benefits of its novel technology in an international multicentre clinical study. To enhance stakeholder participation, it involves end users, SSH experts and a patient organisation in the co-creation of the new screening solution and assesses its health and socio-economic benefits as well as its cost effectiveness. To this end, a collaborative workplace with nine so-called work packages (WP) has been defined.

chart depicting thermobreast work packages
ThermoBreast Work Packages