Feasibility and outcomes of using a novel artificial intelligence enhanced breast thermography technique, Thermalytix, in screening for breast abnormalities at primary health centres at the community level in South India
Keywords:Artificial intelligence, Breast neoplasms, Mammography, Early detection of cancer, Thermography
Background: Women from low-income families have poorer health-seeking behavior, particularly when it comes to cancer screening. A community health initiative was launched by Niramai in collaboration with city officials in Bangalore as a pilot to increase awareness and make breast health screening available to all. This study describes a community-level breast screening for underprivileged women in south India adopting Thermalytix, a thermography-based artificial intelligence device.
Methods: This observational study was conducted at 25 municipal primary health centers where women over 18 years of age were enrolled. The project started on 14 November 2017 and is ongoing. Procedures include a brief meeting on camp procedures, identification of eligible candidates, health education, and Thermalytix testing.
Results: A total of 6935 women underwent artificial intelligence (AI)-powered Thermalytix screening in 25 Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) hospitals. The median age was 42 (range 18-86) of the 5248 women enrolled as per inclusion. Among the 5248 women recruited, 62 (1.18%) women were detected with some abnormalities in Thermalytix. Out of the women who underwent follow-up investigations (11/62), eight were positive on radiological evaluation, further histopathological evaluation confirmed one ductal carcinoma in situ.
Conclusions: Community participation with the engagement of the local government health officials enabled us to develop screening strategies for underprivileged women. Thermalytix could be a potential screening tool in resource-constrained settings and the portable equipment enabled easy movement across different primary health centers (PHCs). Since it is a privacy-aware test, there was less refusal to participate in the test.
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