‘Sci-fi’ Swallowable Cameras to Check for Bowel Cancer Launched on NHS

The Israeli-invented tech is being trialled on the NHS, which will avoid the need for colonoscopies and could mean patients taking cancer tests at home

Mini cameras which are swallowed by patients to check for cancer are being trialled across the NHS. 

The innovative Israeli-invented tech has been welcomed by Jewish cancer charity, Chai Cancer Care, avoiding the need for uncomfortable colonoscopies.

The capsule, no bigger than a pill, can provide a diagnosis within hours. The “sci-fi” invention takes two pictures a second as it makes its way through the body, checking for signs of cancer and other conditions such as Crohn’s disease.

An initial group of 11,000 NHS patients in England will be eligible for the capsule.

“We welcome this very encouraging development and breakthrough in camera testing as a replacement for uncomfortable endoscopies,” said Chai Chief Executive, Lisa Steele. 

“Bowel cancer is the 4th most common cancer in the UK and around the world and there is always much anxiety waiting for results so to be able to have such a fast turnaround will be of tremendous benefit.”

Its clinical lead, Ed Seward, explained that the pill cameras mean patients would be able to have the tests at home as opposed to in the hospital.

“Not only does colon capsule increase our diagnostic capacity, because it doesn’t require the resources of a dedicated hospital space to do the examination, it also allows us to do the examination in the patient’s home,” he said.

“So patients who may be shielding or cautious about going to a hospital, can perform the procedure in the comfort of their own homes.”

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens added: “What sounds like sci-fi is now becoming a reality, and as these minute cameras pass through your body, they take two pictures per second checking for signs of cancer and other conditions like Crohn’s disease.”

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