[AI] Blind Women Help Detect Breast Cancer

Renuka Warrier erenuka at gmail.com
Sun Apr 4 08:06:25 EDT 2010

This posting has been done some months ago and some of has forwarded this 
mail to some NGOs.  Could anyone inform any positive response from any NGO?

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sanjay" <ilovecold at gmail.com>
To: <accessindia at accessindia.org.in>
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2009 1:23 PM
Subject: [AI] Blind Women Help Detect Breast Cancer

  (By Nick Wade and Joana Krause-Palfner. From CNN.com © July 30, 2009)

Blind women are being trained to use their sensitive touch to help detect 
breast cancer earlier and more precisely than doctors.

The program, called "Discovering Hands," is the brainchild of German 
gynecologist Dr. Frank Hoffmann.

Two years ago, he created braille strips as a system of orientation, 
allowing the blind to carry out breast examinations.

Using these strips, blind women are trained to become medical tactile 
examiners (MTUs) because they are more able to detect smaller lumps than 
sighted doctors.

Hoffman argues that because of their disability, the blind can possess a 
more acutely developed sense of touch, which has proved to be a valuable 
in breast examinations.

Once the strips are placed along specific areas of the breast, they are then 
used to report a precise location to the doctor as the MTU reads their 

"We are turning a disability into a gift," Dr. Hoffmann told CNN.

"It's like the game Battleship," he added. "You have the exact location."

A study at the Essen University's women's clinic, Germany, concluded that 
MTUs found more and smaller tumors than doctors in 450 cases.

The identification of smaller lumps allows earlier diagnosis and more 
effective treatment.

Another advantage of having MTUs is that they are able to dedicate more time 
to examining a patient.

Dr. Hoffman said he had previously been able to spend only a few minutes on 
each examination due to his other commitments, whereas MTUs can commit half
an hour.

Training takes place at the BFW occupational school in Duren, west Germany, 
a center for those who are no longer able to continue their profession 
of visual impairment or blindness.

So far, 10 blind women have qualified as MTUs. One of the women, Marie-Luise 
Voll, 57, told CNN: "The work brings me a lot of joy."

Voll had previously practiced as a nurse before losing her sight in 2007, 
but used the experience when training at Duren for her new role.

The highly personal nature of the procedure means that only women will be 
trained. The MTUs report to the doctor-- for whom they act as an assistant, 
a replacement--who then uses this information as part of their ultimate 

If an abnormality is located, the doctor will decide how to proceed, with 
ultrasounds and mammography being the most frequent course of action.

The testing phase of the project between 2006 and 2008 has now been 
completed in Germany. The hope is that 20 trained MTUs will qualify every 
year after

The program has been acclaimed as a success by both patients and 
practitioners in Germany.

Health services in Europe, including Ireland, France, Denmark and Austria, 
have also registered interest in starting an equivalent of their own, 

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