The Breast Examination Simulator: A Training and Assessment Tool for Patients and Physicians

Stanford University, 2002 - $16,700

Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer among women in the US and the leading cause of cancer deaths for women. The National Cancer Institute estimates that one in eight American women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Early detection leads to early treatment and improved patient outcome. Breast Self-Exams (BSE) aid early discovery of the disease, but only 29% of women regularly conduct the exam. Part of the reason for this low percentage is that health care providers do not have a standardized method for teaching breast examination skills.

In response to this lack of uniformity, the Brest Examination Simulator E-Team developed training tools to simulate breast exams and teach the proper procedure. The team created computerized, strap-on breast models for teaching patients how to perform breast self-exams and plated breast models for teaching medical students, residents, nursing students, and physician assistants to perform clinical exams. Each model simulates various conditions, including normal and pathologic. Both models contain electronic sensors to communicate users' movements to a computer screen as they examine the models. The computer data provides individualized performance evaluations and helps define the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of an adequate clinical exam, thereby standardizing the method. Model development is based on the E-pelvis simulator, which one of the E-Team members designed.