Julian Rios Cantu, an 18-year-old teen from Mexico, watched his mother battle breast cancer for years and then get a double mastectomy. After seeing his mother’s very difficult battle with breast cancer, the teen was inspired to create a bra that can help detect breast cancer in its early stages.
The potentially life-saving bra, called “Eva,” was awarded the top prize at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards.
“When I was 13 years old, my mother was diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer,” Julian said in a company video for his new invention. “The tumor went from having the dimensions of a grain of rice to that of a golf ball in less than six months. The diagnosis came too late and my mother lost both of her breasts and, almost, her life.”
Julian and three of his friends designed the bra using sensors to map the surface of the breast and measure texture, color and temperature. The heat sensors are able to track blood flow, which can reveal if blood is feeding cancer cells.
“When there is a tumor in the breast there is more blood, more heat, so there are changes in temperature and in texture,” Julian, who is now the CEO of his own company Higia Technologies, told the Mexican newspaper El Universal. “If we see a persistent change, we will recommend that you go to the doctor.”
The bra only needs to be worn for one hour a week, so it won’t disrupt daily life or become an inconvenience. Bra-wearers can use an app to track their condition.
“Why a bra? Because it allows us to keep the breasts in the same position and it doesn’t have to be used more than one hour every week,” Julian said.
Currently, the bra is only a prototype, but Julian hopes it will become certified for use in about two years.
One in eight women in the United States — about 12 percent — will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. Although breast cancer rates and death from the disease have been decreasing since 1989, breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in the U.S.
Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on AllDay.com, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.