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Breast Cancer Biopsy in Low-Resource Settings

Team Members:
  • Sondra Rahmeh
  • Sachin Aggarwal
  • Pamela Chansky
  • Julia Costacurta
  • Nick Garza
  • Trifeena James
  • Marissa McDonald
  • Nela Mohan
  • Susan Harvey, MD
  • Elizabeth Logsdon, PhD
  • George Coles, MS
  • Bailey Surtees, BS
  • Su Lucas, MBBCh
  • Soumyadipta Acharya, MD, MSE, PhD
  • Alexandra Berges, BS
  • Adam Dodson, NRP


The incidence of breast cancer in South Africa is approximately 35 per 100,000 people, with a five-year survival rate of about 50%, compared to 90% in the United States. This disparity in care demonstrates the need for change in breast cancer treatment in South Africa. While the primary care setting is easily accessible and equipped with the necessary biopsy tools, providers often do not have the degree of user skill necessary to manipulate the ultrasound transducer and biopsy device to maintain clear visualization of the needle on ultrasound imaging. Poor needle visualization can lead to incorrect needle placement, negatively impacting the retrieval of a tissue sample and putting the patient’s safety at risk. Secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities are more capable of performing biopsies; however they are more difficult to access due to challenges including time, cost of transportation and lodging, and increased dependence on family or community members. As a result, women receive a delayed diagnosis or do not get a diagnosis, falling out of the continuum of care. Our team has developed a device that supports the ultrasound transducer while allowing the user to maintain clear needle visualization in plane with the transducer, thereby reducing the burden on the user to coordinate multiple devices and navigate the biopsy needle through the patient’s breast. In effect, the provider is free to use both hands to operate the biopsy device and focus on directing the needle to the lesion for a safe and effective procedure in a primary care setting. Our solution brings safe biopsy to local clinics, which are often the closest point of access for rural women, thereby decreasing the time, distance, and cost factors that limit these women from obtaining a necessary breast biopsy.

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