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Pe·ru·ru#8482; Mammography Equipment

Helping to increase screening rates

Medical equipment generally involves two parties; the technician who operates the equipment and the patient receiving the exam. Toshiba's mammography equipment Pe·ru·ru is a special x-ray equipment for breast cancer examination, which has been developed specifically to meet the needs of both the technician and patient.

In Japan, the breast cancer morbidity rate has been increasing year by year. It is estimated that one out of 20 women is affected. More than 10,000 women die of breast cancer annually; this number has doubled in the past 20 years. In the US and the UK, breast cancer screening rate exceeds an estimated 70%, the result of early implementation of effective measures to promote breast cancer screening. In contrast, Japan's screening rate was only 2% when Toshiba began developing its mammography equipment.

Research shows that the recovery rate for breast cancer is 90% or higher if found at an early stage. Mammograms are the most effective method to identify breast cancer at an early stage.

We started our mammography equipment design project in the hope of increasing breast cancer screening rates and thus helping to save more lives of women. The project team sought for the design that achieves the utmost level of comfort for patients and operational ease for operators. To this end, comprehensive surveys were carried out, feedback was carefully analyzed, and solutions were sought from the aspect of design.

Listening to users' voices

Why is the breast cancer screening rate low in Japan? We focused our attention to the following factors: patients' apprehension about the test and pain from the examination. With mammography, the breast mass is pressed between two plates to make them as evenly flat as possible. This process naturally causes pain, so it is understandable that women feel apprehensive about it. If we can reduce the pain and ease the patient's fear, women will feel more secure and be willing to take the test.

Because the equipment was to be used for women, the project team naturally included many female members. This allowed us to continually reflect the opinions and feelings of users. The project team repeatedly visited clinics where mammograms were conducted in order to grasp the issues and find solutions. Careful attention was paid to the opinions of all parties, and the collected information was shared amongst all team members, which included not only our designers but also product planners, engineers, marketers, and in-house technicians. Team members combined their specialized knowledge and expertise, discussing the issues deeply. The resulting design was carefully examined and assessed. Based on that assessment, a new design was generated and the same cycle was repeated for further design improvement. This approach was user-oriented and based on the human-centric design process.

For more comfortable screening

We utilized human-factor engineering to determine the shapes and layout of control switches. Operators, with their hands on the switches, can carry out the test easily without having to look at the operation pad. Easy operation can result in shorter screening time, which means reduced burden on the patient. Since the technician can pay more attention to the patient, communication is easier, and thus the patient's uneasiness can be mitigated. Also, our research has revealed that the position of the patient's arm affects the pain she feels. Based on this finding, we have developed an arm rest that naturally prompts the patient to place her arm in the best position to minimize pain. This totally new concept was realized through repeated cycles of human-factor engineering examination and assessment.
The visual impression of the equipment is another important factor in making the patient feel more comfortable. Our mammography equipment features a round profile and clean, pearly white color, which creates a gentle and welcoming feeling.

The name Pe·ru·ru™ was created by a woman designer. Coined from the French word perle (pearl), Pe·ru·ru™ embodies the image of the pearl: happiness, longevity, cleanness, and good health. We have taken the utmost care with every detail of the design, including its name, and hope that Pe·ru·ru™ will play a role in helping women for many years to come.

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