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Camera in a pill offers cheaper, easier window on your insides
Date:1/24/2008

What if swallowing a pill with a camera could detect the earliest signs of cancer? The tiny camera is designed to take high-quality, color pictures in confined spaces. Such a device could find warning signs of esophageal cancer, the fastest growing cancer in the United States.

A fundamentally new design has created a smaller endoscope that is more comfortable for the patient and cheaper to use than current technology. Its first use on a human, scanning for early signs of esophageal cancer, will be reported in an upcoming issue of IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering.

"Our technology is completely different from what's available now. This could be the foundation for the future of endoscopy," said lead author Eric Seibel, a University of Washington research associate professor of mechanical engineering.

In the past 30 years diagnoses of esophageal cancer have more than tripled. The esophagus is the section of digestive tract that moves food from the throat down to the stomach. Esophageal cancer often follows a condition called Barrett's esophagus, a noticeable change in the esophageal lining. Patients with Barrett's esophagus can be healed, avoiding the deadly esophageal cancer. But because internal scans are expensive most people don't find out they have the condition until it's progressed to cancer, and by that stage the survival rate is less than 15 percent.

"These are needless deaths," Seibel said. "Any screen that detected whether you had a treatable condition before it had turned into cancer would save lives."

An endoscope is a flexible camera that travels into the body's cavities to directly investigate the digestive tract, colon or throat. Most of today's endoscopes capture the image using a traditional approach where each part of the camera captures a different section of the image. These tools are long, flexible cords about 9 mm wide, about the width of a human fingernail. Because the cord is so wid
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Contact: Hannah Hickey
hickeyh@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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