Chulalongkorn University Designs a Low-cost Model for Use in Teaching and Practicing Breast Cancer Screening

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The Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, has developed a model that can be used to train in the detection of breast cancer. The model is affordable and can effectively be used instead of real bodies donated by the deceased or family. The faculty plans to deliver the models to various departments as needed.

The project leader, Professor Dr Sarawut Rimdusit, Department of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, said that the project started due to the lack of cadavers, which help provide practice in the early detection of breast cancer. After being contacted by the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Nursing, a research unit was created to design and produce a model to replace cadaver donors, which are in short supply. Referred to as the Polymer Material for Medical Equipment Project, the models will replace existing breast models in the market, which are rather expensive.

Prof. Dr. Sarawut explained that the breast model is made of polymer material with similar properties to human skin, reinforced with silk fiber, and added materials for strength. The tumors are implanted in various sizes and shapes, and at different depths, making it ideal for teaching self-examination. Because early-stage cancer is difficult to detect, practice on a breast model becomes a necessity.

However, one current problem the project has is the production capacity. Currently, the project is able to produce only 400 – 500 models at the research unit level. As of now, the models can only be distributed to departments that require it for teaching and advising potential breast cancer patients, such as in the health-promoting hospitals in the different tambons, medical schools in universities, provincial hospitals, and departments that express the need.

“This innovation is a collaboration between alumni, professors, and researchers from various departments, such as the Department of Chemical Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials Science Research Institute (MMRI), and the Faculty of Engineering, Srinakharinwirot University. Although it was initially developed by personal funds and with the support from Thai Pigeon Co., Ltd. for hard silicone rubber, we are currently funded by the Chula Research Unit and have received the patent for the model. Production should increase in the near future, and the model will become more widely beneficial.” Prof Dr Sarawut concluded.