16 Jan 2014

Professor Kenneth Foster talks about "What makes Medical Technology work"

On Thursday 23rd of January at the KTH School of Technology and Health in Flemingsberg (Alfred Nobels Allé 10, room 3-221) at 15.15 professor Kenneth Foster will give a lecture on the above topic. The Lecture is part of the IEEE Distinguished Lecturer Program.

This talk will explore the complex interplay between the development of technology and the social and human impacts of technology, focusing on the important medical problem of screening for breast cancer. I will contrast two different technologies: infrared imaging of the breast and X-ray mammography. Over the past half century there have been numerous attempts to develop thermal imaging systems to detect breast cancer. After decades of research, evidence is still lacking that it works, at least in any medically significant way. The few thermography systems that have gained regulatory (FDA) approval have done so with narrow indications for use that essentially preclude access to viable markets. By contrast, tens of millions of women in the US alone are being screened for breast cancer by X-ray mammography every year. But screening for breast cancer is presently controversial, with fierce disputes among physicians and health groups about the tradeoffs between the benefits (saving lives by early detection of cancer) and harms (from overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment). Making medical technology "work" in this area raises subtle issues that extend far beyond technical issues alone.