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14 Oct 2003 09:36
Revolutionary new breast cancer detection technology that could eventually replace the mammogram is being piloted in under-privileged communities across South Africa while its distributors await the issuance of a reimbursement tariff from medical aid schemes.
Known as Biofield BDS, the US-born technology makes use of electrical currents to determine the presence of breast cancer with a high degree of accuracy, largely doing away with the unnecessary biopsies that follow on from mammograms.
Terry Wickham, chief executive of the Aquila Healthcare Group, that are introducing the technology in South Africa, explained that in 80% of cases, the growths detected by mammograms were proven by biopsy testing to be benign.
The problem, however, is that the growths can turn malignant at any moment while further biopsies cannot be undertaken for a minimum of six months—a window of opportunity for cancer to develop and to possibly become terminal.
With the Biofield system, electrodes are used to pick up electrical signals emitted by cells in the breast—signals, which the system’s inventor discovered, differ substantially depending on whether the cells are malignant or not.
“If the pattern of electrical charges reveals the existence of cancer, the patient then bypasses all the previous steps required by the normal diagnostic mammography and a biopsy can be immediately performed for histological study.
“This substantially eliminates false and needless biopsies, since Biofield clearly shows which growths are benign and which malignant with a high degree of accuracy.
The Aquila Healthcare Group began introducing the technology to South Africa some eighteen months ago and have developed a pilot mobile programme whereby agents will be able to move into selected communities to conduct tests on woman free of charge.
The programme is sponsored by TAG Amoore—a healthcare organisation in the United States.
Renee Amoore, CEO of TAG Amoore, said: “We are extremely positive about the prospects of this project. We have developed a pilot ... whereby agents will educate women about breast care ... and also conduct tests to screen them for it.
“We expect to invest $1-million annually and to eventually manage five to six mobile units throughout the country.”
Meanwhile Aquila, who are waiting for medical aid schemes to finish their evaluation of the benefits of the new system over the traditional mammography, are planning to provide the test to all the top health hydro establishments in the country. - Sapa
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