MIT Develops Wearable Ultrasound Device for Early Detection of Breast Cancer

MIT Develops Wearable Ultrasound Device for Early Detection of Breast Cancer
Photo Source: Via MIT News


Tsedenia Gigar Getaneh 

Women’s Rights Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defense.

“We changed the form factor of the ultrasound technology so that it can be used in your home. It’s portable and easy to use, and provides real-time, user-friendly monitoring of breast tissue.” says Canan Dagdeviren, an associate professor in MIT’s Media Lab and the senior author of the study.

Breast cancer is highly treatable when diagnosed in its earliest stages, boasting a survival rate of nearly 100 percent. However, for tumours detected in later stages, the survival rate drops significantly to around 25 percent. (World Economic Forum August 3, 2023)

In a ground-breaking effort to enhance breast cancer survival rates, researchers at MIT have unveiled a wearable ultrasound device designed to enable early tumour detection. The device takes the form of a flexible patch that can be easily attached to a bra, allowing individuals to monitor their breast tissue regularly and detect tumours in the early stages, leading to more effective treatment outcomes. (Trafton July 28, 2023)

  • A wearable diagnostic

Dagdeviren's project was inspired by her late aunt, Fatma Caliskanoglu, who tragically developed late-stage breast cancer at the age of 49, despite undergoing regular cancer screenings. Unfortunately, she passed away just six months after the diagnosis. (Melchionna August 4, 2023)

Determined to prevent similar outcomes and improve survival rates, Dagdeviren envisioned a diagnostic device that could be integrated into a bra, enabling frequent screenings for individuals at high risk of breast cancer. The team developed a miniaturized ultrasound scanner, utilizing the same technology found in medical imaging centres, along with a novel piezoelectric material that allowed for the device's miniaturization. (Trafton July 28, 2023)

To make the device wearable and user-friendly, a 3D-printed patch with honeycomb-like openings was created, and magnets were used to attach the patch to a bra with corresponding openings, ensuring that the ultrasound scanner could make direct contact with the skin. The scanner is housed inside a small tracker that can be moved to six different positions, allowing for comprehensive imaging of the entire breast. Furthermore, the device does not require specialized expertise to operate, making it accessible for home use. (Trafton July 28, 2023)

The researchers successfully tested the device on a human subject, a 71-year-old woman with a history of breast cysts. The wearable ultrasound device effectively detected the cysts, some as small as 0.3 centimetres in diameter—comparable in size to early-stage tumours. The resolution achieved by the device was found to be similar to that of traditional ultrasound, and it enabled imaging at depths of up to 8 centimetres. (Trafton July 28, 2023)

  • A Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Detection

The wearable ultrasound patch provides a ground-breaking solution for detecting "interval cancers," which account for 20 to 30 percent of all breast cancer cases. Interval cancers develop in between regularly scheduled mammograms and are often more aggressive than those detected during routine screenings. (Melchionna August 4, 2023)

Dagdeviren's team envisions the device being used not only by high-risk individuals in the comfort of their homes but also in remote and underserved areas where regular access to screening facilities may be limited. This breakthrough technology eliminates the need for women to travel imaging centres, making it more convenient and accessible for early detection. (Trafton July 28, 2023)

Currently, researchers need to connect the ultrasound scanner to a traditional imaging machine to view the ultrasound images. However, the team is working on a miniaturized version of the imaging system that could be smartphone-sized, further enhancing the device's portability and ease of use. (Melchionna August 4, 2023)

Looking ahead, the researchers are exploring the implementation of an artificial intelligence (AI) workflow. By analysing how the images change over time, AI could provide more accurate diagnostics than relying solely on radiologists' assessments of images taken years apart. This advancement could significantly enhance the accuracy and reliability of breast cancer diagnostics. (Trafton July 28, 2023)

The development of the wearable ultrasound device represents a promising milestone in the field of medical technology, demonstrating the potential for wearables to revolutionize disease detection and monitoring. Moreover, this innovation may inspire similar wearable solutions for other medical conditions, leading to earlier diagnosis and better patient outcomes. (Trafton July 28, 2023)

Overall, the wearable ultrasound device offers hope for significantly increasing breast cancer survival rates by facilitating early detection and timely intervention. With further refinements and integration of AI capabilities, this cutting-edge technology holds the potential to transform the landscape of breast cancer care, empowering individuals to take charge of their health and well-being. 

Sources and Reference 

  1. World Economic Forum (August 3, 2023). MIT invented a wearable ultrasound device that detects breast cancer.  Retrieved August 8, 2023, from
  2. Anne Trafton (July 28, 2023). A wearable ultrasound scanner could detect breast cancer earlier. MIT News, Retrieved August 8, 2023, from
  3. Mark Melchionna (August 4, 2023). Wearable Ultrasound  Scanner Detects Interval Breast Cancer. Devices & Hardware News, Retrieved August 8. 2023 from,to%20medical%20imaging%20center%20probes.