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Visually impaired women detect breast cancer

Global Goals & Global Society
Visually impaired women detect breast cancer

Medical tactile examiners (MTU) can feel tiny changes in the breast.

Bergedorf. They are highly sensitive lifesavers - even though their visual acuity is barely ten percent, and sometimes even less. Three medical tactile examiners (MTU) present themselves and their extraordinary profession.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tanja Witt, Jenny Bruns and Antonia Greifenberg-Bouhaik will be standing in front of the Pluspunkt pharmacy with plenty of illustrative material. Because even though their job saves lives, it needs some explaining: Like 50 colleagues throughout Germany, they can feel changes in the female breast that, at six millimeters in diameter, are significantly smaller than the 1.5 centimeters that doctors detect during routine breast cancer examinations. At two centimeters in diameter, tumors are considered life-threatening because they then begin to spread.

Sensitive hands feel tiny changes in the breast

"We've never done an information table in the pedestrian zone before; this is a real first in Bergedorf," says MTU Jenny Bruns. "Normally, we introduce ourselves at medical congresses or medical trade fairs." Unlike there, the trio wants to engage in conversation with passersby at Sachsentor. Christine Hilger, regional manager for northern Germany of "discovering hands," the employer of all MTU in Germany, will also be there.

The initiative was launched twelve years ago by gynecologist Dr. Frank Hoffmann in North Rhine-Westphalia. Today, he is the managing director of "discovering hands Service GmbH. His female employees are loaned out by doctors' practices for fixed days by means of so-called "employee leasing". In Bergedorf, the gynecologist Dr. André Motamedi with his practice on Hinterm Graben Street and the gynecologist Dr. Roxana-Gabriela Anghel from Neuallermöher use this service.

Costs are taken over by many health insurance companies

Anyone who wants to become a medical tactile examiner undergoes around nine months of training at "discovering hands" in Berlin. Beforehand, a test procedure lasting up to five days is obligatory, because only those who have a particularly pronounced sense of touch are accepted. And these are mainly women with severe visual impairments.

Fully trained MTUs spend a lot of time with their patients - up to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the breast. If they feel a change, they are immediately examined by the doctor. In this respect, tactilography is regarded as an extended diagnostic option in the early detection of breast cancer. As an equipment- and radiation-free method, it complements imaging procedures such as mammography and sonography. In addition, according to "discovering hands," the costs are covered by the majority of health insurance companies - even for women who are younger than the 50 years old age limit for imaging procedures.

Good chances of recovery if the tumor is less than two centimeters in size

"During our examination, red and white marking strips are stuck to the women's skin so that any findings can be precisely localized," says MTU Tanja Witt. The Wentorf resident is always on duty with Dr. Motamedi on Mondays and Dr. Anghel on Tuesdays. "In addition to the breast, we also palpate the neck and armpits." If something is discovered that actually turns out to be cancer, the chances of cure are nearly 100 percent - as long as the dangerous two centimeters in diameter have not yet been reached. A breast cancer tumor grows an average of one millimeter per month, according to medical studies.

When resources are limited, diagnosis and treatment services should concentrate on all common and alternative ways to deal with cancers that can be cured, such as early-stage breast, cervical, and oral cancers.. Above all, services must be delivered in a sustainable and fair way. The global society is open to suggestions from nations that want to share their achievements in diagnosis and treatment, to find solutions to fight cancer and mayor achievements in the Sustainable Development Goals.


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