This pill camera revolutionizes bowel cancer diagnosis

Feb 27, 2024

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

This pill camera revolutionizes bowel cancer diagnosis

Feb 27, 2024

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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The photography world is constantly evolving, and it already has its place in medicine. But now there’s another camera-related novelty that could help detect bowel cancer. A new study funded by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is investigating colon capsule endoscopy, a non-invasive yet reliable diagnostic method.

Imagine a camera so small you can swallow it whole. ColoCap is no bigger than a vitamin pill, and it travels through your digestive system, capturing thousands of images of your bowel lining. Unlike traditional colonoscopies, which require hospital visits and involve discomfort for some patients, this innovative method offers a minimally invasive, patient-friendly approach.

The principle of working and benefits

The principle is pretty simple: patients swallow the capsule, which transmits pictures wirelessly to a recorder they wear on their waist. After naturally passing through the body, the capsule is discarded.

As I mentioned, the principle is minimally invasive, and there’s no need for hospital stays. There’s also the potential for remote swallowing with virtual consultations with your doctor, reducing travel and wait times. Disposable capsule eliminates waste generated by colonoscopies

Professor James Turvill, Consultant Gastroenterologist, York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, explained:

“It has taken 15 years of hard work to get to this stage and it is a real privilege to think that I am working on a project that may change the way bowel cancer is diagnosed in future, both in the UK and internationally.  Working on the ColoCap project is the pinnacle of my career and comes as we complete the largest evaluation ever undertaken into the use of colon capsule endoscopy in bowel cancer diagnosis.”

Still, we have to note that this technology isn’t all new. We previously reported about PillCam, another miniature camera inside a pill used for the same purpose. The difference is that ColoCap is still in the research and evaluation phase, while PillCam is already widely used in clinical practice in Scotland.

The results of the ColoCap study are expected in 2026-2027, and the potential impact on patients and the healthcare system could be groundbreaking. Hopefully, this non-invasive method will spread globally to spare patients pain and discomfort while diagnosing cancer and other illnesses in their early stages.

[via Digital Camera World; Image credit: York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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2 responses to “This pill camera revolutionizes bowel cancer diagnosis”

  1. Dr. Colon Avatar
    Dr. Colon

    Perhaps you and the doctor advertising the system should mention, that it’s not just about swallowing a pill and then calling it a day.

    First it is required to flush out the entire intestine tract by administering laxatives (typically a combination of sodium phosphate, magnesium citrate and/or magnesium sulfate with additional sodium picosulfate) and then drinking ample amouts a water with macrogol (at least a litre or two) until your guts are squeaky clean. Which causes the mayor part of the discomfort, i. e. having to visit the toilet many times with watery stool.

    Otherwise the little pill won’t see anything at all. If it does not miss the important bits, because it is no Insta360 after all and because intestinal adenoids – which can get malicious after a while – are tiny, sometimes smaller than a millimeter or two but still need to be removed ASAP. Which the pill can’t do unfortunately and neither can it the “virtual colonoscopy” which is essentially just glorified x-ray on steroids.

    But an endoscope (aka. colonoscope) can, because the instrument has an additional canal for tools – such as slings, cauters and so on.

    And thanks to the miracle of midazolam, propofol, meperidine and fentanyl the entire process is not really painful, albeit a little uncomfortable. And while you are at it, you can also have a look at the esophagus, the stomach, duodenom and take a sample to test for helicobacter pylori. The latter of which is known to cause chronic stomach inflammation and cancer. Which a pill also can’t do.

    Those two procedures every 5-8 years (people with a family history of colon cancer or a diagnosis of intestinal adenoids might want it at a higher frequency) can prevent up to 90% of cancers in that area. If you’re really taking it seriously, you could also do a Guayak-test for occult blood in the stool or even a haematoporphyrine test, which has an even higher sensitivity: Bleeding is often associated with colorectal cancer in its early stages.

    Professor James Turvill has a right to be proud of his proceedings and “working on a project that may change the way bowel cancer is diagnosed in future”, but he is unfortunately not telling the entire truth:

    If you’re over 40, get a grip on yourself, undergo regular colonoscopy and gastroscopy and most likely don’t die from colon or stomach cancer. Which sucks, trust me. I know it, I have seen it.

  2. Stephen J Avatar
    Stephen J

    I don’t understand what is new about this, but perhaps your report has missed a vital point.

    I have Crohn’s disease and was prescribed a pill camera at least twenty years ago at Kings College in Denmark Hill, in south London. It did exactly as described in your article and my consultant was able to see my ulcerations.

    Personally, I was not impressed, since 1: I had already had surgery and the doctors had taken a 3’ lump of my small and large intestine (2’6” of small and 6” of large + the little valve known as the Caecum that separates the two sections) away to play with and 2: I had more than usual extreme diarrhoea and had to call in to a friend’s house in Tulse Hill and use his facilities, which I do not regard as a good way to visit a friend.

    My medical consultant, then had a little film of what he already had seen after my consultant surgeon had done his work.

    Since then the disease has just affected three more places, and I can see the inevitable coming down the road towards me, which is a complete resection liquid feed like the one that I already take (Modulen) for when it is bad, and a bag for life.

    I have taken some really expensive drugs, including one called Humira, which used to cost the NHS around a £1000 per shot which I had to take once every two weeks.

    What I would like to see is a proper cure, and that never seems to arrive.