[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/HEALTH/07/29/german.blind.cancer/art.german.cancer.jpg caption="The blind assistants use tape strips with braille coordinates to accurately locate cancerous lumps. "]
Nick Wade and Joana Krause-Palfner
Blind women are being trained to use their sensitive touch to help detect breast cancer earlier and more precisely than doctors.
The program, called "Discovering Hands," is the brainchild of German gynecologist Dr. Frank Hoffmann.
Two years ago, he created Braille strips as a system of orientation, allowing the blind to carry out breast examinations.
Using these strips blind women are trained to become Medical Tactile Examiners (MTUs) because they are more able to detect smaller lumps than sighted doctors.
Hoffman argues that because of their disability, the blind can possess a more acutely developed sense of touch, which has proved to be a valuable asset in breast examinations.
Once the strips are placed along specific areas of the breast, they are then used to report a precise location to the doctor as the MTU reads their Braille coordinates.
"We are turning a disability into a gift," Dr. Hoffmann told CNN.
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