On October 5, 2011 the world received the sad news of the death of Steve Jobs. He was the victim of a rare and fatal type of cancer, the pancreatic. This type of cancer usually kills about 91% of patients. This is because it has no symptoms in its early stages of development. The symptoms will only appear when the tumor is already well advanced, and then the case is almost awkward.
However, an application called BiliScreen promises to make an early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. But how does he accomplish this feat? As pancreatic cancer progresses, the level of a substance called bilirubin increases considerably in the body, being present even in the white part of our eyes. That’s why in the terminal stages the cancer patients with yellow eyes.
What this application does is use the camera on the smartphone to identify the amount of bilirubin in the patient’s eye. It can detect even low amounts of the substance. Hence, in the case of a small but gradual increase, it would already be the case for more in-depth examinations. After all, the sooner the cancer is detected, the faster we can stop it.
Currently, for the app to be able to identify the substance in our eyes, the patient needs to wear a special eyeglass. Another way to increase the accuracy of detection is to place the smartphone in a kind of headset, which prevents external light from reaching the device’s camera. However, surveys are being done so the app will not need any of these accessories soon.
In clinical trials with 70 patients, BiliScreen was able to detect cancer in 90% of cases. Almost as accurate as a blood test. Hopefully this method will be available to everyone as soon as possible.
“Pancreatic cancer is a terrible disease with no effective screening right now,” Jim Taylor, a researcher on the project, said in a statement. “Our goal is to have more people who are unfortunate enough to get pancreatic cancer to be fortunate enough to catch it in time to have surgery that gives them a better chance of survival.”