The humble brassiere could play a more pivotal role as a US based company has unveiled plans for a hi-tech device that can be worn inside the bra to help detect breast cancer.
Catching the cancer early is crucial to survival rate and the efficacy of traditional annual mammograms as a reliable detection method is being called into question, with tumours beginning to form up to six years before they can be detected using mammograms.
The company believes that their device will be able to detect tumours early and reduce the rate of false positives and negatives, thereby helping women seek treatment as soon as possible following a diagnosis.
The invention takes the form of a sensor that is placed inside the bra where it will measure any changes in cell temperature caused by the blood vessel growth associated with tumours as they develop.
The sensor will also contain software that uses pattern recognition, chronology and artificial intelligence to look for changes in breast tissue that might indicate a tumour was present, Medcitynews.com reports.
The report said that the size of breast tumours and how far the cancer has spread are crucial elements in determining the prognosis of women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Advancing technology - 3D mammography and thermography, for example - have gone some way in bringing early diagnoses to women, but these common methods are not infallible.
"Concerns with patient discomfort, exposure to radiation and false positives and negatives have spurred the creation of numerous other screening methods," the company First Warning Systems said.