Life-Saving Tech For Your Boobs: This Bra Detects Cancer

Okay, so back when it was Underwear Week, I was having a super hard time coming up with a way to incorporate the tech column into our underwear theme. This was my first choice, until I realized it would have done better in the Bra Issue and that maybe we were looking for the kinds of undies you wear on your butt. So vibrating panties it was. But I really feel like this topic still deserves a shout out just because it’s so darn cool. Ladies, gentlemen and all others, I give you the First Warning System.

This bra can detect cancer. It could detect cancer long, long before our usual methods (mammogram and…uh…mammogram) would normally even be recommended. It could improve the visibility of screening for cancer. See the original story and video explanation here.

Here’s why I thought this deserves a shout out in our lovely queermo online community –

I don’t like my boobs touched. I don’t like them poked, prodded or compressed in anyway. I don’t mind that they’re there. I’m super comfortable with them. But, like, they just kinda wanna hang out. They don’t want company, and they certainly don’t want the life squeezed out of them. But you know what? I do those exams because hey, you never know. Now in terms of my attitudes toward my boobies, I’m on the mild end of things. I bind sometimes, but I don’t really feel dysphoric in the way that some members of our community do. Some people don’t want breasts acknowledged at all, and sometimes that makes healthcare just a little tougher. A mammogram is the ultimate in breast acknowledgement, but it is still necessary. This bra, though? Yeah, it’s still a bra and some people don’t want to wear a bra but it might be a cakewalk in comparison. And after all, you only have to wear it for 12 hours to get an accurate read. It’s a low cost, non-invasive alternative that can better women’s/people-with-breasts’s health – what’s more radical than that?

via Gizmodo

This bra looks magic. via Gizmodo

The cancer-detecting bra is still in prototype and is scheduled to be FDA approved this year. I for one am really excited to tech my queer boobs. And if you want the total cyborg undergarments look, get yourself some vibrating panties to go with it. Because preventative healthcare is sexy.

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


    • Every time I think I’m over it, someone brings it back up and my heart just breaks all over again.

  1. And it’s a sports bra style, so I would actually wear it!

    So does anyone know if this a bra that people can buy, or is it one your doctor will give you to wear for a day and bring back?

    • If it’s like other diagnostic medical devices, you would probably wear it for a day and then give it back. However, the diagnostic medical devices I work with tend to have the bits that touch your skin/orifices as disposable or disinfectable/sterilizable parts. I wonder how tht would work out with this device?

  2. why do i feel like the comments on this article are mainly going to consist of sobbing over dana?

  3. Wow! I’m definitely going to read up on this a bit more and follow it as the technology progresses. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Wearing a heavy bra full of metal-y knobs and wires for 12 hours sounds kind of painful though? My easily irritable bosom can’t even cope with underwires.

    • It would certainly be easier for your “easily irritable bosom” than a mastectomy. Seriously, my mom had her right breast removed when I was a child and I cannot emphasize enough what an incredibly traumatizing thing it is.

      • THIS. Yes. Yes it is. Physically, obviously, but also totally messes with body image and self esteem. I can only speak to my experiences having chosen it (and some to seeing my mom’s experiences with lumpectomy and stage 3 cancer), but seriously – if you have the option to do routine surveillance and risk reductive behaviors, by all means do. It’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative.

      • I know, but this was presented specifically as a less discomforting alternative to a breast exam, and I was suggesting that it might not be less painful for everyone.

  5. Actually, mammograms aren’t the only available screening option. MRI is used as well, though it’s generally only recommended for people who are at high risk (BRCA mutations and the like, with ~85% lifetime risk of breast cancer) in six month intervals with mammograms, because it catches more little things that may or may not be harmful.

    Also on the horizon of screening tools: molecular breast imaging. I highly recommend checking out Deborah Rhodes’s TED talk on it.

    This bra is a super cool new option, thanks so much for letting us know about it!

    • thanks to k for the link and information re dx technology …as the only woman on my maternal side that does not have breast cancer..this makes this a very special interest. I always find the posts on Autostaddle the best!

      • You’re welcome! I’m BRCA2+, and chose a preventive double mastectomy and reconstruction over screening every six months as my mom, grandfather (yes, father) and great grandmother all had BC. I’m down to roughly a 1% chance now, and it’s on to worrying about ovarian cancer and melanoma. If you need to know more resources for the high risk community or want to talk, message me. Hereditary cancer sucks.

  6. Sounds like junk science to me. Thermography has so far not been shown to be effective at detecting breast cancer. Where’s the data on how many cancers the device finds or misses compared to existing technology? How many things will it find that aren’t cancer that mean women go on to have necessary tests?

    And how many women will avoid having either reliable diagnostic or screening breast x-rays because they think they’ll wait til this device is available.

  7. Please pardon me, while I interrupt this meaningful discussion of cancer, science, and Dana.

    Am I the only one who misread the last sentence as,
    “Because PENETRATIVE healthcare is sexy”?

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