Kiwi women crying for breast cancer research

Kiwi women crying for breast cancer research

A group of Kiwi women have been shedding tears in the name of cancer research.

A groundbreaking study is being conducted in Auckland to determine if tear samples can be used to detect breast cancer.

Around 400 women sat down to watch a tear jerking movie on Tuesday, but there were no tissues being handed out at the screening.

Instead pieces of filter paper were placed on their eyelids to collect tears, which will now be sent off for analysis.

Chief Scientist Dr Anna Daily says the research will look at a series of proteins that change in women who have breast cancer.

"What we're looking at is ocular proteins, so the tears that are present in your eye will stick to the strip and then we take those off and study those," she says.

Dr Daily says there is a long list of benefits for this method compared to a mammogram.

"The sample's really easy to get. It's non-invasive, it doesn't hurt very much, anyone can do it, it's inexpensive you don't need a lot of specialised equipment to take a tear test."

She says another benefit is that it would make early detection possible in countries that don't have wide-access to mammograms.

Auckland mother and writer Helene Ravlich suffers from breast cancer and credits early detection with saving her life.

She says the new method would make testing more accessible.

"It'd be so useful because women aren't gonna be terrified, some women don't want to go into a room full of people and take their top off whereas something like this is less invasive."

Women who donated their tears in the name of science gave the test the thumbs up.

"Easy and fast, it didn't feel too bad it was not too uncomfortable," said one movie watcher.

"Perfect I'd do it anytime to detect breast cancer no worries," explained another.

It's still early days for the method. A large scale clinical trial is next on the agenda before the researchers get it on the market.