Breast cancer remains the highest rate of mortality in South African women and those living in rural areas face multiple barriers in screening.
Kathryn Malherbe, CEO and founder of Medsol, is working on the development of deep machine learning (DML) and artificial intelligence (AI) software that addresses this issue. Medsol’s Breast AI Solution is software designed for breast cancer identification and segmentation for breast ultrasound in the diagnostic imaging sector.
Medsol Breast AI is an online patient based platform that receives images for ultrasound units in practice. The images are then fed into a unique system that identifies any abnormal breast cancer masses. This high tech system speaks to both the specialist physician and the patient to provide diagnostic solutions, education and support for their journey.
“Our software is mobile and hands free, and is ideal for rural based institutions wanting to improve their diagnostic output,” explains Kathryn. “Women living in rural areas experience higher false-positive cancer rates on diagnostic mammography. They also have lower screening mammography uptake and more advanced stage cancer at diagnosis.”
Having worked in clinical practice for the past 15 years, Kathryn was inspired to understand why breast cancers are often missed during ultrasound imaging. Currently she is completing her PhD in Clinical Anatomy at the University of Pretoria, where she also serves as a lecturer. Lecturing is a one of her passions, as she loves interacting with the students and being able to share her knowledge to motivate and inspire them.
“We employ breast cancer survivors as ambassadors to promote breast education. This boosts the local economy by creating jobs and also helps to break the stigma associated with this disease,” explains Kathryn. “Since starting our ambassador campaign in 2020, we have employed over 25 women across the country, and have educated and supported over 122 000 women on our online platform. We are now looking to expand to Tanzania, Zambia and Namibia.”
Kathryn needed to find ways to grow her business, to assist her in taking it to new heights. “I entered the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards, and was thrilled when I was placed third place at the awards event held in February this year. I was granted R850 000 in funding support and have also been provided with the support and skills that I needed to develop my business,” she says. “ I believe that our innovation can make a real change to the high mortality rate currently associated with breast cancer in South Africa.”
As a passionate and dedicated innovator that really wants to make a meaningful difference to the lives of women, Kathryn provides advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. “If you have a passion, go for it! Don’t let the nay-sayers make you doubt yourself. Learn and read as much as you can, as knowledge is the key to success. Stand your ground but never be afraid to ask for support.”
About the SAB Foundation
Founded in 2010, the SAB Foundation provides funding for small, medium and micro-sized enterprises in order to contribute to the economic and social empowerment of historically disadvantaged persons through entrepreneurship development. The SAB Foundation’s primary beneficiaries are women, youth, people living with disabilities and people living in rural areas, from low-income backgrounds. More than R339 million to date has been invested in social innovation, disability empowerment and SMMEs. #ThisIsUs