Pancreatic cancer is one of the most terrible diseases, with a survival rate of only 9 percent during the first five years. This happens mostly because the symptoms are not visible at the beginning. When a patient finally starts exhibiting these symptoms, he already has an advanced stage of the disease. However, a team of researchers found a simple and effective way for people to test themselves.
Detecting even small increases in the bilirubin levels
Researchers from the University of Washington created an app called BiliScreen, which people can use on their smartphones. With the help of their cameras, the app analyzes the whites of someone’s eyes. Then, with the help of advanced algorithms, it can assess the level of bilirubin present in their eyes.
Pancreatic cancer increases the level of bilirubin in a person’s body, and especially in their eyes. When the levels are high enough, the whites of the eyes turn yellow, just like it happens in the case of hepatitis. Unfortunately, when this yellowing becomes visible to the human eye, the cancer has already reached an advanced stage.
This offers more chances of survival for pancreatic cancer patients
However, BiliScreen doesn’t use a human eye, and it can detect bilirubin even when it has really low levels. Therefore, it can tell people if it exceeds certain levels, and when it might indicate the presence of some diseases. The method can be as effective as a blood test, and it’s cheaper.
Jim Taylor, one of the researchers, happy to offer a possible screening technique for pancreatic cancer patients, and increase their chances of survival.
“Pancreatic cancer is a terrible disease with no effective screening right now.”
For the app to work, users either have to use a special box which blocks the surrounding light, or wear colorful glasses with patterns the app has been calibrated to. Surrounded by the protective box, the app showed an accuracy of 90 percent. Now, researchers are trying to make it work even without the accessories.
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