Researchers at the University of Warwick have developed a unique, highly accurate, breast cancer mannequin that, for the first time, will give women learning how to spot breast lumps a training aid that can closely mimic what a range of breast lumps actually look and feel like.
The quest to create this unique breast cancer teaching aid began when three highly motivated disability nurses approached University of Warwick plastics engineer Dr Nick Tucker to help them create a teaching aid that would assist them in teaching breast cancer awareness and self inspection to people with learning difficulties. The final result is something that will be of great assistance to all women.
The mannequin consists of a fiberglass torso, which can be fitted with 4 different interchangeable types of breast implants, all containing different tissue anomalies (lumps). The torso with the silicone rubber breast implants is covered by a latex covering of 'skin' which makes the model appear and feel true-to-life.
The device enables individuals to learn self-examination. It will benefit all women but will be of particular benefit those with learning difficulties who's limited reading skills limit how much they can benefit from many current breast cancer self examination training methods. The mannequin will also be particularly useful when working with women with cultural inhibitions that otherwise impede them learning about self examination.
Clinical trials are underway to investigate the use of the mannequins in a GP Surgery, a Residential Home for Learning Disability and a Cancer Treatment Centre. Early results of those trails have been very positive. The nurses and Dr Tucker have also already begun investigating the development of a similar model for testicular cancer.
The mannequin will provide a unique breast cancer training experience for women - but it has already been a unique experience for Stourbridge machining company Micron Machining. Normally the company deals with metal and plastic based precision light and medium engineering but Dr Tucker and the Nurses persuaded the company to give them free use of their equipment and skilled staff to create the prototype main mannequin frames and skins to the design and concept of Dr Tucker and the Nurses. The company now hopes to get a diversification grant to allow to assist a full production run of the device.www.warwick.ac.uk