South Africa’s First Digital Mammography Scan


caperay-aceso-regulatory-clinical-trialsjpg-2The Aceso machine will for the first time in South Africa provide digital mammography and ultrasound. Technologies have been combined in a single screening unit to cut the time for the accurate early diagnosis of breast cancer. Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor was present at Groote Schuur Hospital during the launch of the Aceso machine that will provide X-ray and ultrasound to detect breast cancer

This South African masterpiece of equipment was launched at the Groote Schuur Hospital recently and strives to do away with the need for multiple screening tests, mainly in women with dense breast tissue.

The Groote Schuur Hospital has been a pillar in South African Medical innovation. The hospital has performed the world’s first heart transplant, first penis transplant and now South Africa’s first two-in-one breast cancer scanner.

The Aceso machine, which is undergoing a testing phase at the hospital, is the world-first imaging system to combine the two technologies. The device allows for the instant detection of even the tiniest breast cancers.

According to statistics, one in eight women in South Africa develop breast cancer and 40 percent of them have dense breast tissue, making screening difficult.

Speaking at the launch of the machine at Groote Schuur Hospital, Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel and the Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor harmonized that the multimillion rand innovation was a huge boon to South Africa.

Patel said: “This machine will not only provide opportunities for better healthcare, but it will provide employment opportunities for the country. I’m excited about the potential this holds for economic development. This shows that innovation can address healthcare problems and is a demonstration that South Africa has smart ideas for the world.”

AcesoThe R30-million unit, developed by Cape Ray, a company that branched out from UCT in 2010, has been proven effective and safe in screening for breast cancer after it was tested on more than 50 healthy volunteers and 20 patients with confirmed breast cancer.

According to Dr Kit Vaughan, chief executive of Cape Ray; explained that “Usually when you do mammography it can take up to 30 minutes and when you have to do ultrasound that takes another 30 minutes. With this machine you can perform the mammographic and ultrasound functions at the same time.”

“Not only do you save time, but you don’t have to have two machines so you save money too. The key about this technology is it can be widely used to reach a large number of people so it is ideal to use in a public healthcare setting,” Vaughan said.

The machine produces a low-dose X-ray and uses ultrasound simultaneously, allowing for the immediate detection and early treatment of breast cancer before it spreads. The development of the machine was funded by the Industrial Development Corporation.

We look forward to seeing this machine distributed to more hospitals around the country to combat this life threatening disease, by providing fast and effective early detection.