A method and apparatus for use in training persons in breast cancer
detection by manual examination is disclosed. The apparatus includes
a device which simulates human breast tissue and a plurality of
simulated lesions which are designed to represent specific lesions
found in human breast tissue. The apparatus is employed to train
a person in manual breast examination and also serves to train a
person to recognize many different types of lesions found in human
What is claimed is:
1. A training device for use in teaching manual breast examination
techniques employed in detecting human breast cancer comprising:
a body of an elastomerically yielding material, and
at least one lump embedded in said body,
said lump due to its hardness, size and configuration resembling
a pre-determined type of lesion which is known to be found in human
breasts such that a person may be trained to recognize different
types of lesions.
2. A device according to claim 1 wherein said body comprises at
least one cavity into which said lumps may be removably inserted.
3. A device according to claim 2 further comprising a cover of
an elastomerically yielding material which may be placed over said
body, said cover simulating human breast tissue.
4. A device according to claim 3 wherein said cover is hingedly
attached to said body in a manner which permits said cover to assume
an open position which exposes said body and a closed position which
covers said body.
5. A device according to claim 2 wherein said body is fabricated
from foam rubber or a suitable polymer which simulates the consistency
of breast tissue.
6. A device according to claim 4 wherein said cover comprises foam
7. A device according to claim 5 wherein said cover further comprises
a plastic elastomer which simulates human skin.
8. A device according to claim 7 wherein said cover is shaped to
simulate a human breast.
9. A device according to claim 6 wherein said cover further comprises
a portion fabricated from silicone gel which simulates the feel
of normal breast tissue.
10. A device according to claim 3 wherein said cover comprises
11. A device according to claim 2 wherein said body comprises silicone
12. A device according to claim 1 wherein said lumps resemble lesions-
comprising carcinomas, fibro-adenomas, cysts and lipomas.
13. A device according to claim 1 wherein said body comprises silicone
14. A device according to claim 12 wherein said lumps are permanently
embedded in said body.
15. A method of training a person to perform manual breast examination
comprises the steps of:
providing a training device for use in teaching manual breast examination
techniques employed in detecting human breast cancer comprising
a body of an elastomerically yielding material, and at least one
lump embedded in said body, said lump due to its hardness, size
and configuration, resembling a pre-determined type of lesion which
is known to be found in human breasts such that a person may be
trained to recognize different types of lesions,
instructing a person on the technique of manual breast examination,
requiring the person to manually examine said device to thereby
familiarize the person with the technique of manual breast examination
as well as teaching the person to recognize at least one pre-determined
type of lesion which is found in human breast tissue.
16. A method in accordance with claim 15 wherein said device includes
a means for manually interchanging said lumps, said method further
comprising the steps of:
removing said lump from said body, and
inserting another lump resembling a different pre-determined type
of lesion to thereby teach a person to recognize a plurality of
different types of lesions which are found in human breast tissue.
17. A training device for use in teaching manual breast examination
techniques employed in detecting human breast cancer comprising,
a body of an elastomerically yielding material,
at least one recess in said body,
a plurality of lumps made of different materials and of different
colors to simulate lumps within the human body selected from the
group comprising carcinomas, fibro-adenomas, cysts, cystic thickenings
said lumps being adapted to be received with said recess, and
a cover for said body simulating human skin whereby the lump disposed
within the recess may be felt through said cover.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The invention relates to a device for use in training persons in
breast cancer detection by manual examination. More particularly,
this device provides a means for training persons to distinguish
among the many forms of lesions found in the human breast and thereby
recognize which lesions are potentially dangerous and require immediate
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The incidence of breast cancer ranks second only to skin cancer
among the new cases of cancer in women. Breast cancer is also second
only to lung cancer in the number of cancer fatalities of women
in 1986. It is presently estimated that one of every eleven women
will develop some form of breast cancer during her lifetime. The
mortality rate resulting from breast cancer has not dramatically
decreased in the past 35-40 years.
The primary methods of breast cancer detection are by mammography
and physical examination. The earlier the cancer is discovered,
and the smaller the tumor is, the greater is the chance of survival.
It has been shown, that if tumors can be detected while they are
under two centimeters in size, the cure rate would be increased
by 50 percent and there would be a related reduction in the mortality
rate. Therefore, the sooner that tumors are recognized, and the
smaller the tumors are when they are recognized, the greater the
Manual self-breast examination is a simple, worthwhile, atraumatic
and non-hazardous method that is practiced worldwide. It has been
shown that more frequent manual examinations increase the likelihood
of detecting breast cancer, reduce the delay in treatment, detect
tumors at an earlier clinical stage and smaller tumor size, and
improve survival rates. The primary criticism of manual examination
is that women do not examine their breasts properly. Several authors
have stated that only 10-12 percent of women performing manual examination
have correctly applied breast cancer detection methodology. It is
well recognized, however, that at least 80 percent of all breast
cancers are detected by women themselves. Manual breast examination
is a viable and successful method of cancer detection and it is
important that all women perform this monthly examination in a uniform
manner. There are many methods of teaching manual breast examination.
Such methods include films, lectures, mass media, brochures and
instruction from health professionals. Of these methods, instruction
from one's personal physician is the most important. Most women
have difficulty in differentiating between harmful and harmless
lesions and they have little or no knowledge of the various types
of lumps which may occur in the breast. A tactile method of teaching
women about the different types of tumors is essential for training
in manual examination. This is true because 80 percent of tumors
of the breast are benign. Therefore the ability to recognize the
different types of tumors will allow women and health professionals
to recognize the dangerous tumors.
Ortho Pharmaceutical Corporation markets a breast cancer detection
teaching model in the form of a human female torso having simulated
tumors embedded in the breast. This model has a more complex design
and is far more expensive than the present invention. In addition,
this model does not include removable simulated tumors which may
be externally inspected and does not include a wide variety of lesions
which represent the types of tumors that occur in the breast, as
does the present invention.
Spenco Medical Corporation markets a breast cancer detection teaching
model which comprises a plurality of simulated tumors within a gel-like
substance shaped like a breast. The model further comprises a protective
fabric cover which simulates skin. Again, this device includes no
provision which would enable one to distinguish among benign solid
tumors, cysts and malignant tumors.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,001,951 (Fasse) discloses the use of a plurality
of lumps of varying hardness, size and configuration disposed within
a foam rubber skin-like cover. This device only allows one to determine
how various types of cancer growths feel upon manual examination.
It does not provide any means for distinguishing between benign
and malignant disease nor does it suggest utilizing other types
of objects to simulate cysts and other benign thickenings.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,134,218 (Adams et al.) discloses a means for improving
the pressure sensing techniques for manual breast examination. In
the disclosed device, simulated tumors are made from various materials
in different sizes, shapes and consistencies. This reference does
not disclose any means for distinguishing between a cancer tumor
and other types of benign thickenings.
Accordingly, it is the primary object of the present invention
to provide a breast cancer detection training system which includes
a means for training persons to recognize the various types of lesions
which naturally occur in human breast tissue.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a simple,
inexpensive breast cancer detection training device for use in every
physician's office, as well as for a home training device.
It is a still further object of the present invention to provide
a breast cancer detection training device having removable simulated
lesions which may be interchanged by the user at will.
These and other objects of the present invention will be apparent
to one of ordinary skill in the art from the summary and detailed
description which follow.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to a training device for use in teaching
breast examination techniques that are employed in detecting human
breast cancer. The device comprises a body of elastomerically yielding
material and one or more lumps embedded in the body wherein the
lump or lumps, due to its hardness, size and configuration, resembles
a pre-determined type of lesion which is known to be found in human
breasts such that a person may be trained to recognize different
types of lesions.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention the various types of
lumps which resemble lesions are removable and interchangeable.
The present invention also relates to a method of training a person
to perform manual breast examination comprising the steps of providing
the training device of the present invention, instructing a person
on the technique of manual breast examination and requiring the
person to manually examine the device to thereby familiarize the
person with the technique of manual breast examination as well as
teaching the person to recognize pre-determined types of lesions
which may be found in human breast tissue.
The present invention provides a method and apparatus which is
useful in teaching persons to recognize the various types of lesions
found in human breast tissue. This is accomplished by providing
a plurality of lumps, each of which resembles a pre-determined type
of lesion, and allowing a person to manually examine each lump to
thereby become familiar with the size, shape and configuration of
different types of lesions.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a plan view of the device according to the invention
with the cover in the open position.
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the device according to the invention
with the cover in the closed position.
FIG. 3 is a sectional view along line A--A' of FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is a sectional view of some of the lumps which resemble
certain lesions which may be used in the present invention.
FIG. 5 is a sectional view of an alternative embodiment of the
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Referring to the drawings in detail, wherein like numerals indicate
like elements, there is shown in FIG. 1 a preferred embodiment of
the present invention. The breast cancer detection training device
10 includes a body 11 and a cover 12. Located at some point within
the body 11 is one or more cavities 13. The cover 12 is hingedly
attached to the body 11 by hinges 14 attached to one edge of the
cover 12 and body 11 as shown in FIG. 2. The cover may be attached
to the body by threads if desired. The cover 12 also includes a
simulated areola 15, a simulated nipple 16, and is formed from two
layers 17 and 18 as seen in FIG. 3.
The present invention also includes a plurality of lumps 20, each
of which resembles a type of lesion. Among these lumps are a carcinoma
21, a fibroadenoma 22, a cyst 23, a cystic thickening 24, and a
lipoma 25. Other lumps 20 (FIG. 3) may be used as long as they resemble
lesions found in human breast tissue.
The body 11 of the device may be made from a soft material. More
preferably the body 11 is fabricated from an elastic foam rubber
or a similar plastic elastomer. The body 11 may be a sheet of soft
material which, in a preferred embodiment is between 1/4 and 1/2
inch thick and 41/2" wide by 91/2" long. The body 11 is
adapted to receive at least one lump within cavity 13. The body
11 may have several cavities 13 therein such that several lumps
selected from the group 20-25 may be used at a time. However, the
single cavity version can be sufficient since the lumps are interchangeable
at will. This gives the trainee the option of examining only selected
lesions and also allows the trainee to actually pick up and inspect
the lump as well and palpate the lump outside the simulated breast
environment. In an alternative embodiment the device 10 may also
have the lumps permanently fixed in the body 11. In such an alternative
embodiment the lumps would not be interchangeable and consequently,
there would be no way for the lumps to be accidentally misplaced.
The cover 12 has for its purpose to simulate the feel of human
breast tissue. The trainee will, upon placement of the cover 12
over the body 11, be able to palpate the lumps under conditions
similar to those encountered when palpating a human breast. The
cover 12 may be flat or it may be shaped to represent a breast section
containing a nipple 16 and an areola 15. The cover 12 may be a single
layer of an elastic foam rubber or similar plastic elastomer. For
a more realistic simulation though, it is desirable to have a two-layer
cover 12 wherein the top outermost layer 17 is an elastic foam rubber
or similar plastic elastomer and the inner layer 18 comprises silicone
gel 30 housed in a sealed, enclosed membrane 31. The silicone gel
layer 18 provides a more realistic simulation of normal breast tissue.
The flow properties of gel material 30 are more like the consistency
of human breast tissue than are foam rubber or similar plastic elastomers.
The cover 12 may further include a skin-like plastic elastomer 32
which envelops the outermost surface of the top layer 18. This skin-like
plastic 32 will impart to the cover 12 a texture that simulates
actual skin such that a trainee may be exposed, on the device 10,
to the most realistic simulation of actual breast tissue that is
possible. This is important because the more accurately the device
10 represents actual breast tissue with lesions therein, the better
the trainee will become at recognizing the lesions upon manual breast
The cover 12 may be completely separate from the body 11 as long
as the cover 12 is adapted to fit over the body 11 to provide a
surface of simulated breast tissue between the embedded lumps and
the trainee's hand. In the preferred embodiment the cover 12 is
hingedly attached to the body 11 by hinges 14 in a manner which
allows the cover 12 to be in a closed position as shown in FIG.
2 and an open position as shown in FIG. 1.
The invention also includes a plurality of lumps which are designed
to represent various types of lesions found in human breast tissue.
Each lump may be permanently embedded into the body 11 or more preferably
the lumps are removable from the body cavity 13 in the body 11 and
may be replaced or interchanged at will. In general, the lumps may
be fabricated from any suitable material having the desired texture
and hardness for the particular lesion to be represented. The lumps
may be made from such things as durable silicone plastic elastomers;
or pebbles, balloons, foam rubber, sponge, cloth, styrofoam and
marbles as temporary expedients. The lumps are appropriately colored
to simulate the color of actual lesions since, in an embodiment
of the present invention, the lumps may be removed and visually
inspected by the trainee.
Several different types of lumps are used in connection with the
invention. These lumps represent malignant lesions as well as benign
lesions which are found in human breast tissue. Among the different
types of lumps which may be used with the present invention are
a malignant carcinoma 21, fibro-adenoma, 22, cyst 23, cystic thickening
24 and lipoma 25.
The malignant carcinoma 21 is grayish in color and firm. This carcinoma
21 is also irregularly shaped and has a beading or stellate form
as shown in FIG. 4. Due to the firmness of this lesion the carcinoma
21 is formed from a hard material such as a plastic, pebble, or
the like. When the trainee is being acquainted with this lesion
she will be instructed that this lesion is frequently associated
with retraction and dimpling and that it is usually not associated
The fibro-adenoma 22 represents a benign lesion that occurs primarily
in younger women. In general this fibro-adenoma 22 will be firm,
round, smooth and movable to some extent. The fibro-adenoma 22 will
have a whitish-yellow color and may be fabricated from plastic,
a pebble, a marble or the like.
The cyst 23 represents a benign lesion which is usually found in
menstruating females. The cyst 23 is represented by a smooth, round
object that contains air or fluid. A cyst 23 is bluish in color.
The cyst 23 can be a small balloon made of a material which is considerably
stronger than commercial balloon material such that the cyst 23
will last a long time. A suitable plastic elastomer is preferably
used to fabricate this object.
The cystic thickening 24 represents another form of benign lesion
found in human breast tissue. This cystic thickening 24 is represented
by an ill-defined mass which is relatively soft. A cystic thickening
24 is represented by a white object and may be fabricated from plastic
elastomer, spongy material, styrofoam, or the like. The trainee
is instructed that this type of lesion may be tender to palpation
and usually enlarges just prior to a woman's period.
Yet another simulated benign lesion is a lipoma 25 which represents
a conglomerate of fatty cells. The lipoma 25 is soft, round, smooth,
homogeneous and may occur at any age. The lipoma 25 is represented
by a yellowish object and may be made from plastic, cloth or the
It is to be understood that the foregoing lumps are merely representative
examples of the possible lumps that can be used in connection with
the present invention. Any lesion that is found in human breast
tissue may be represented by a lump. Other possible lesions include
but are not limited to, mammary duct ectasia, abscesses, papillomas
An alternative embodiment of the invention is depicted in FIG.
5. In this embodiment the lumps 21-25 are permanently embedded in
a mass of silicone gel 30 which is enclosed by a sealed, enclosed
membrane 31. The silicone gel 30 gives this embodiment a realistic
feel that simulates human breast tissue. Moreover, this embodiment
will be inexpensive and the lumps 21-25 will not be removable and
therefore cannot be misplaced. The membrane 31 may also be a skin-like
elastomer which imparts the characteristics of simulated skin to
In use a physician demonstrates and explains the various lumps
and clinical characteristics of each lump to illustrate the feel
of these lesions. Preferably, a printed form is given to each trainee
to explain the steps of manual breast examination as well as illustrating
the clinical characteristics of various tumors. Once the lesions
and clinical characteristics have been explained the trainee is
required to palpate the lumps 20-25 through the cover 12 or in the
case of the alternative embodiment of FIG. 5, through the silicone
gel 30. On palpation, the lumps will impart to the patient the appropriate
amount of pressure to be used for manual examination, as well as
the characteristic feel of each type of lesion found in breast tissue.
As a result, the patient will acquire a distinct knowledge of what
is to be looked for during manual examination and also the ability
to recognize and distinguish among the various types of lesions.
This training is sufficient to impart to the trainee the knowledge
that the American Cancer Society recommends should be given to all
women. The invention may also be used as a home kit, along with
proper instruction, for women to become familiar with manual breast
The present invention has been described in detail with reference
to certain specific embodiments thereof. Many modifications and
variations of the present invention are possible without departing
from the spirit thereof. Accordingly, the scope of the invention
is to be defined by the claims appended hereto.