Tactile Breast Examinations at CK Birla Hospital
The loss of one thing often results in the gain of another.
Such also seems to be the case with our sensory systems. When an individual loses their eyesight or hearing, their remaining senses can become extraordinarily sensitive. Since blind individuals depend frequently on touch for perception, constant reliance and practice cause their sense of touch to become highly developed. Tactile Breast Examination, or tactilography, harnesses the heightened sense of touch of visually impaired individuals for precise and effective detection of tumors in the breast.
These superpowers, per se, and their medical importance, were first recognised by Dr. Frans Hoffman, a German gynecologist. Hoffman theorised that visually impaired women would be brilliantly suited to carry out breast examinations on patients. The evidence supporting this theory was incontrovertible.
CK Birla Hospital for Women, in partnership with the National Association for the Blind, brings this newly developed method of breast cancer detection to India. Using a standard system based on Braille strips, Medical Tactile Examiners are trained to conduct safe, repeatable, and accurate clinical breast examinations without any radiation or side effects. During 30-60-minute-long examinations, trained examiners find 50% smaller, and 30% more tumors than doctors administering standard examinations.
Tactile Breast Examinations benefit not only the patient being examined but also the professionals trained to carry out the examinations. The process provides vocational and educational opportunities to visually impaired women, allowing their difference to be recognised as a strength rather than a disability.
In India, 80% of women identify and report their breast cancer at advanced stages. At these stages, chances of cure are significantly reduced. This late identification can be attributed to the common inability to conduct BSEs and discover breast cancer in its early stages. The lack of day to day discourse surrounding the subject also plays a large part in individuals’ lack of knowledge. Processes such as the Tactile Breast Examination provide preventative measures that could identify breast cancer well before it reaches advanced stages, and would also give women an opportunity to learn how to conduct Breast Self-Exams (BSE) for themselves.
At the CK Birla Hospital for Women, we are currently offering Tactile Breast Examinations, as well as BSE training by tactilography professionals for free. For women under 40, the Tactile Breast Exams will be accompanied by a complimentary ultrasound, while women over 40 will be offered a complimentary mammogram screening.