A New Selfie App To Diagnose Pancreatic Cancer
Mobile technology now comes to our rescue in terms of health as well. Yes! There are apps which can diagnose diseases even before they show symptoms in us. One such app is BiliScreen.
An app for diagnosing pancreatic cancer
- BiliScreen checks for early signs of pancreatic cancer
- Researchers showed this app is able to detect increased bilirubin levels
- This was far better than the regular blood test done by doctors
The onset of smartphones and apps for all sorts of work, be it minor or major, have made our lives easier. From booking rides, paying bills to splitting complicated expenses, everything can now be done with the help of a phone. Not only this, mobile technology now comes to our rescue in terms of health as well. Yes! There are apps which can diagnose diseases even before they show symptoms in us. One such app is BiliScreen. This app analyses your eyes through selfie to check for early signs of pancreatic cancer. Researchers at the University of Washington have developed this app.
Biliscreen uses smartphone camera, machine learning tools and computer vision algorithms to check for increased levels of bilirubin. This is a reddish yellow pigment which is formed as a result of RBC breakdown in the sclera, the white part of eyes. Jaundice also causes a rise in bilirubin levels before it is visible to the naked eye. Researchers showed that this app is able to detect increased bilirubin levels when people take a selfie.
In the clinical study, this app was used for detection of the disease in people and proved to accurate in identifying cases of concern 89.7% times in the 70 people included in the study. This was far better than the regular blood test done by doctors because that shows increased bilirubin levels when the situation is about to go out of hand.
The app collects pictures of a person's eye when he or she takes a selfie. Computer vision system automatically separates white part of the, this helps in diagnosis.
Dr. Jim Taylor, professor in the UW Medicine Department of Pediatrics, lost his father due to pancreatic cancer at age 70. He believes that this technology reflects a promise for helping people affected by pancreatic cancer to diagnose the problem early and have some time for surgery. This can help in improving their odds for living.
"Pancreatic cancer is a terrible disease with no effective screening right now," Taylor said in a statement.
Biliscreen is expected to be more helpful for people who require regular monitoring of bilirubin levels. At present, doctors use blood test for this purpose, which is not carried out till adults are seen in need of it. The high bilirubin levels are attributed to blockage of common bile duct by a tumor.
The app has been developed in a way so it is easy to use and a non-invasive tool which can help people get an early treatment when needed. Due to late diagnosis, 10 to 15% of patients are eligible for surgery when diagnosed. It doesn't cause common symptoms like jaundice, weight loss and abdominal pain till the tumor has developed to dangerous levels which is why it is diagnosed late.
"The eyes are a really interesting gateway into the body -- tears can tell you how much glucose you have, sclera can tell you how much bilirubin is in your blood," says Shwetak Patel, the senior author of this study and professor in computer science and engineering.
Early researches show that smartphone apps can also be used to detect for jaundice in new borns within minutes. Likewise, "BiliCam" is another smartphone app which serves as a screening tool to determine whether or not a baby needs a blood test which is the doctors' technique to check for bilirubin levels.
Though BiliCam cannot replace a blood test, people can still use it to know that it is time to proceed to the next level.