Thanks to the small nodes that make up Braille letters, the blind are adept at detecting small bumps. And for many women, those "bumps" could be the difference between life and death.
That's why German gynecologist Dr. Frank Hoffmann, author of a yet unpublished University of Duisburg-Essen study, is convinced blind women may be the best at finding small tumors during breast exams.
According to his research, vision-impaired women can find about 33 percent more cancerous lumps than their eagle-eyed peers.
Hoffmann explained it takes a certain amount of skill to find tumors, telling the BBC,
Women doing self-examinations can feel [tumors] which are 2 cm and larger. Doctors usually find [tumors] between 1 cm and 2 cm, whereas blind examiners find lumps between 6 mm and 8 mm.
That makes a real difference. That's the time it takes a [tumor] to spread its cells into the body.
Thanks to Hoffmann's pioneering organization, Discovering Hands, 17 blind women are already working as Medical Tactile Examiners in German and Austrian clinics – and more are in training.
Instead of the customary three-minute exam, these women spend up to 45 minutes examining a patient's breasts with the help of a Braille-labeled grid system made from tape.
The process ensures tumors are discovered as early as possible.
And while some doctors argue earlier isn't always better, fearing of misdiagnosis and false alarms, Hoffmann's technique is certainly pioneering.
Time will tell whether or not other countries take to Hoffmann's blind breast exam technicians.