It is difficult to diagnose cancer of the small intestine in the early stages. That explains the high mortality rate of small intestine cancer patients. The five-year survival rate of patients is only between 20-30%. A micro-device that could help doctors detect cancers in the small intestine in the very early stages, has been developed by researchers at the University of Cyprus.
Julius Georgiou, who headed a team from the Holistic Electronics Research Laboratory at the university, said, "The breakthrough could be compared to the Papanikolaou test for detecting cervical pre-cancerous cells in the early stages in women. The pill-sized capsule is aimed at a low-cost small intestine cancer screening which could help increase the rate of survival. The small intestine is largely inaccessible as opposed to the colon and by the time symptoms appear the cancer has reached advanced stages and has most likely metastasized to other organs."
Georgiou further added, "The capsule is designed to detect micro-cancers in the small intestine, thus enabling early detection and removal of cancerous cells. The capsule record infrared fluorescence levels attached to pre-cancerous cells as it traverses the small intestine and stores the data onboard until it is expelled from the body. Data can be wirelessly downloaded for inspection by the physician."
Georgiou, an assistant professor at the department of electrical and computer engineering of the University of Cyprus, said, "The key advantage of infrared based markets is that the emitted wavelengths can be detected by the capsule even if they are located a few millimeters below the epithelium, where cancers start. A major advantage is the fact that the examination of light fluorescence data are simpler and less time consuming to read than image data."