IDS International: Early breast cancer detection can help save lives

The sooner you know you have breast cancer, the sooner you can start treatment. And the prognosis for treatment is more positive the earlier it is caught. That was enough of an incentive for Peter Westerink, managing director of IDS International B.V., to get involved in the development of BreasTel®, an innovative breast examination tool.

Peter has a background in radiology and has worked in the medical industry for many years. In 2014, he decided to set up a company to help medical start-ups successfully implement their innovative ideas. One such start-up was IDS International, which developed BreasTel®. “I know and understood there are many great medical innovations that don’t make it to the market because many startups do not survive.”

Easy to use breast-examination tool

What exactly is BreasTel®? Peter explains: “It’s an innovative tool that supports breast (self)examination. It automatically distinguishes between benign and suspicious lumps in the breast that could potentially indicate breast cancer. In addition, the innovation is easy to use; just connect it to a smartphone, tablet or computer. It is a handheld device that you hold against the breast at the site of the palpable lump.”

And why is it such an important innovation? Because BreasTel® helps primary care with breast examination as a triage tool for referral. “It indicates ‘benign’ or ‘suspicious’, which means that women can be reassured much earlier in the process in case of a benign indication. Or if the indication is suspicious, women can be referred directly for a follow-up examination in the hospital.”

There was another reason for Peter to get involved in the development of BreasTel®. “In addition to the earlier detection, it also had a meaning for me personally. My sister and my sisters-in-law died of cancer. As is the case, most of us know someone who has or has had (breast) cancer. The sooner it is discovered, the greater the chance of survival.”

For primary care and self-examination

BreasTel® is not only a triage tool for primary care professionals; women at home can eventually use it at home for self-examination. “The BreasTel® device gives an automated result, which means you don’t need medical expertise and knowledge to use it.”

For IDS International, earlier reassurance and the reduction of unnecessary referrals and breast exams are the important factors. “The earlier breast cancer is detected, the sooner treatment can begin. And starting treatment as early as possible often has a positive effect on the outcome of treatment.”

“There is also the cost aspect: research shows that most palpable lumps are benign, which means that the number of unnecessary referrals can be reduced. An earlier indication gives women earlier reassurance in case of a benign mass recognition.”

Further development of the prototype

Where is IDS International now? “The prototype has been clinically tested and is now being further developed”, explains Peter. “We have demonstrated the functionality of BreasTel® with our research and also clarified which technological modifications are still needed to make it ready for the market.” The company still needs funding for this development.

Peter has therefore attended several Briskr meetings and workshops and pitched the innovation at the BANN, Business Angels Network Nijmegen. “I got to know Briskr through business partners and the regional development agency Oost NL. I really appreciate Briskr and its partners, and how they help start-ups to achieve their goals.”

More than breast cancer?

BreasTel® is currently being developed specifically for breast examination. “If we can use BreasTel® to reassure women in an earlier stage, or get them referred to the hospital sooner for follow-up testing, that would be fantastic.”

Peter has even bigger dreams. “I hope we can start using this technology for other indications, such as prostate or skin cancer. The earlier cancer is detected, the better the prognosis and the chance of survival.”

Do you want to know more about this product? You can e-mail Peter Westerink.