According to a research paper published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, despite the fact that breast cancer screening has been proven to significantly decrease breast cancer mortality, “less than half of all eligible women have a mammogram annually.” One of the barriers that prevent women from having these important screenings is the prevalence of significant gaps in risk information. Without a firm grasp of why it is important that women, particularly with a combination of risk factors, should be screened for breast cancer, a lot of screenings go undetected. Black women are particularly vulnerable to having their breast cancers detected at more advanced stages as a result of systemic disparities in the healthcare system.
What it does
To address this risk information gap, we are proposing to develop a web application that provides personalized risk information. Through a simple quiz that asks the user which risk factor(s) they have, we will provide them with a breakdown of their risk factors to determine how frequently they should be having their screenings. Our goal is to help guide women in understanding their unique combinations of risk factors. In demystifying the screening process, we hope to encourage more women to feel more comfortable in taking the important steps that they need to protect their health.
How we built it
We created a React web application for a clean and responsive user interface. The landing page will be the breast cancer risk screening quiz. Once the quiz is completed, the user will be taken to their personalized risk factor information.
To analyze the risk factor data, we will be using the BCSC Risk Factors dataset, which “includes participant characteristics previously shown to be associated with breast cancer risk including age, race/ethnicity, family history of breast cancer, age at menarche, age at first birth, breast density, use of hormone replacement therapy, menopausal status, body mass index, history of biopsy, and history of breast cancer.” Based on these factors, we assigned a final stratified risk score to assess the urgency in which the user should be screened for breast cancer.
Challenges we ran into
Originally, we were planning on adding another page that took the user through their breast cancer screening journey based on their risk factors. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to complete this portion due to time constraints. Additionally, we were going to add custom data visualizations based on the unique combination of risk factors, but this was another feature that we put on the back burner due to time constraints.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
As a team, we are proud to have been able to combine the skills from our different technical backgrounds together to develop an application that can give women an easy-to-use tool that helps them to better understand their risk factors. Though we hadn't met one another in the past, we worked really well together! There is also a lot of room to scale up this application, so if we continue with this project after the hackathon, hopefully, we can continue to refine the user experience that we can offer.
What we learned
Because of the team's different backgrounds, we each learned from each other when it comes to the different tools and concepts that were involved, from learning how to work with different React components to data analytics. On the breast cancer domain side, we learned so much about the different risk factors that influence a woman's likelihood of developing breast cancer and the reasoning behind those risk factors.
What's next for Personalized Breast Cancer Risk Profile
We don't just want this to be a risk assessment--we also want to be able to take the user on an in-depth view of what their breast cancer screening journey might look like. We want to make it even more customizable and user-friendly with powerful and digestible visualizations to give a clearer understanding of how their unique personal risk factors impact the importance of getting themselves screened. Making this process more transparent will hopefully reduce anxiety around the process and empower women to take charge of their health journeys.
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