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Swallowable capsule camera for home endoscopy
The National Health Service (NHS) in England will be conducting a study to examine the effectiveness of a miniature camera the size of a large vitamin pill that can be swallowed, and then transmits images of the gastrointestinal tract like an endoscopy or colonoscopy. This colon capsule endoscopy can be used by patients at home instead of having to visit a clinic or hospital for their colorectal cancer screening test.
The tiny camera passes through the body taking two images per second to examine for signs of cancer or other conditions such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The study will initially involve 11,000 patients from 40 regions across England. Participants will be sent the colon capsule to use at home and will be guided through the process via a video calls with a trained healthcare worker. The capsule takes about 5-8 hours to pass through the entire digestive system and is discarded after use.
The colon capsule comes at a time when many people are very cautious about going to a hospital, or their screening tests have been delayed or cancelled due to the pandemic. The colon capsule endoscopy is a response to the surge of patients that sought colorectal screening after the dramatic slowdown in cancer services in 2020. In December 2020, 200,000 people came forward for screening in England, an increase of 13,000 compared to the same month in the previous year.
The colon capsule is an innovative technology that could help to improve the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer and has the potential to improve outcomes for people who may be experiencing colorectal cancer symptoms and must urgently undergo further tests.
Take away message:
An innovative technology known as the colon capsule endoscopy uses a tiny, swallowable camera to image the gastrointestinal tract of patients. It will be evaluated in a study involving 11,000 patients across England to better understand the advantages and limitations associated with this novel colorectal cancer screening method. Its development came in response to the dramatic decrease in colorectal cancer screenings that occurred in 2020 due to the pandemic and provides a potential alternative to in-person visits to the clinic or hospital.