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Towards an early screening tool for pancreatic cancer?

Pancreatic cancer has one of the worst prognoses, with a five-year survival rate of 9 percent, because of the lack of telltale symptoms or non-invasive screening tools to catch a tumor before it spreads.

University of Washington researchers have developed the BiliScreen app, which allow people to easily screen a susspected pancreatic cancer and other diseases – by snapping a smartphone selfie. BiliScreen uses a smartphone camera, computer vision algorithms and machine learning tools to detect increased bilirubin levels in a person’s sclera, or the white part of the eye.

Indeed, one of the earliest symptoms of pancreatic cancer, as well as other diseases, is jaundice, a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the blood. So the ability to detect signs of jaundice when bilirubin levels are minimally elevated – but before they’re visible to the naked eye – could enable an entirely new screening program for at-risk individuals.

In an initial clinical study of 70 people, the BiliScreen app correctly identified cases of concern 89.7% of the time, compared to the blood test currently used.

In contrast with others methods of screening, BiliScreen does not require access to a health care professional.

This app is a very interesting illustration of digital preventing tools, easy-to-use, and non-invasive, that could be efficient to determine whether someone ought to consult a doctor for further testing.

This new app was presented on the 13 of September at Ubicomp 2017, the Association for Computing Machinery’s International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing.