Innovative Practices 2013 on Employment

Blind women as experts in detecting breast cancer

discovering hands® uses the superior tactile perception of blind and visually impaired persons to improve palpatory diagnosis in the early detection of breast cancer.

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Blind women as experts in detecting breast cancer
Organisation:discovering hands®
of origin


To date, approximately 10,000 examinations have been carried out throughout Germany. Currently, there are 14 CBEs employed in 17 gynaecological practices and hospitals. In an initial quality study, it was determined that CBEs are able to detect up to 50% more and up to 28% smaller changes in the breast than doctors are able to. Currently, a large scale clinical study to academically underpin these findings is being carried out in cooperation with the University Gynaecological Hospital at the University of Erlangen under the supervision of Prof. Dr. M.W. Beckmann.


discovering hands® trains blind and visually impaired women to become Clinical Breast Examiners (CBEs), deploying them for the early detection of breast cancer.

The early discovery and treatment of breast cancer enables a less strenuous form of treatment and improves patients’ chances of survival. The clinical breast examination by the CBE is based on a specially developed, standardised and quality-assured concept of examination.

This innovative concept not only establishes a greater degree of certainty for detecting changes in the breast, but also facilitates an agreeable examination environment for women, with maximum attention and allocation of time.

In a nine-month training programme, blind and visually impaired women are trained as CBEs in qualified vocational training centres for persons with disabilities (Berufsförderungswerke) across Germany and examined by the North Rhine Medical Association.

Through this training, discovering hands® transforms a perceived “disability” into a capability and simultaneously makes a valuable contribution to enhancing the range of professional opportunities for visually impaired persons, while improving health care provision.

discovering hands® is a completely unique, innovative and globally unprecedented project that, using everyday clinical experience, not only improves the healthcare situation for patients and eliminates the fear of confronting the “spectre of breast cancer”, but also simultaneously creates social added value for persons with disabilities and, through a meaningful qualification measure, creates economic potential.


Originating in Germany, discovering hands® has, so far, not been implemented outside of the country, but there have been inquiries from 6 European and 2 Asian countries. Market studies are currently being carried out in China, Singapore and Austria. Market entry in cooperation with an Austrian partner is scheduled for mid 2013.


Dr. Frank Hoffmann

discovering hands® gUG
Großenbaumerstr. 28
45479 Mülheim an der Ruhr
Phone: +49 208 437 633 03
Fax: +49 208 420 440

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