Breast cancer is the world’s most prevalent cancer according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In this article, we will focus on 15 innovations from the US, UK, Europe & Israel that aim at improving breast cancer detection and disease management.
A note to conscientious readers:
While I use the term “women” in this article for simplicity, I refer to all individuals with uterus and ovaries, including some transgender men, non-binary people, intersex people or people with variations in sex characteristics;
Additionally, I will highlight innovative breast-cancer related solutions on a patient and/or healthcare professional level. Should you need more information on these innovations (for instance, their indications for use or clinical evidence), please refer to the web links;
This article shall not be interpreted in any manner as a medical prescription or medical advertising.
A prevalent disease…
2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer globally in 2020 (WHO, 2021).
Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control (CDC, 2022).
The disease can present several symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue (NHS, 2019).
This condition is not transmissible nor infectious. Certain demographic, lifestyle, medical and family history factors increase its risk (WHO, 2021).
…with high survival rate when detected early
The 5-year relative survival rate is 99% when the disease is identified at a localized stage (American Cancer Society, 2023).
Early screening is key to reduce mortality.
Screening at a younger age may take place depending on their risk factors and the decision of their general practitioners or gynecologists.
In France, the participation rate to screening campaigns was 50,6 % in 2021 (Santé Publique France, 2022). Goal is to increase it in the coming years.
When diagnosed, breast cancer is treated using a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy (NHS, 2019).
What innovations are provided by FemTech startups?
Improving early detection, diagnosis accuracy, disease management & recovery.
We highlight 15 innovations from the US, UK, Europe and Israel.
a) Early detection
Several startups empower women with prevention and early detection tools to avoid late-stage diagnosis:
Gabbi (US) delivers a breast cancer risk assessment & personalized action plan to female patients. The company partners with employers to expand access to employees;
Dépist & Vous (France) is a digital platform facilitating the early detection of various cancers (including breast cancer). Following a questionnaire, the patient gets access to a personalized screening calendar, appointment reminders and information resources;
Listed Predilife company (France) helps companies & medical institutions implement predictive breast cancer testing among their female employees & patients. Leveraging telehealth and the MammoRisk® test, women starting 40 can evaluate their risks of developing breast cancer and obtain a personalized action plan.
To facilitate screening of early breast cancer symptoms in a non-invasive & cost-effective way, startups develop innovative medical devices for healthcare professionals' use:
These devices position themselves as complementary or supplementary examination tools to standard diagnostic methods.
b) Diagnosis accuracy
Helping radiologists find malignancies in mammograms can be critical to improve diagnosis accuracy.
c) Disease management
When diagnosed, patients’ journeys can be long, complicated and isolating.
The following companies focus on developing solutions to improve disease management:
Resilience (France) provides a remote monitoring platform to healthcare providers and a mobile application to patients to help them cope with adverse effects and relieve their concerns through educational content. The French company started with breast cancer support in 2021 and now covers other oncology conditions;
Endomag (UK) develops medical devices to help women access less invasive breast cancer care;
MyCharlotte (France) delivers a platform & mobile application to cancer patients with a variety of content to support their journey (videos, articles, audios).
d) Recovery solutions
Breast cancer patients may undergo mastectomy.
Companies such as Lattice Medical (France), Healshape (France) and BioAesthetics (US) develop innovative breast reconstruction solutions made of biomaterials. They are currently in R&D or clinical trials stages.
We find it promising that startups proactively explore solutions to improve breast cancer prevention & disease management.
Employers will probably implement more disease prevention & support policies in the future. The Working with Cancer pledge launched in 2023 by the Publicis Foundation goes into this direction.
Thank you for reading this article.
Let's contact if you want to start a discussion.
Charlotte Puechmaille from FemTech Now
This article was initially published on the FemTech Now Linkedin page on March 8, 2023.