Researchers at the University of Washington have developed an app that can screen for pancreatic cancer – using selfies.
According to the university, pancreatic cancer is a dire condition to have. A five-year survival rate of only 9% and a lack of non-invasive, telltale screening tools make it a tough disease to catch.
Now, however, thanks to a new app called BiliScreen, all that could change. The software uses “computer vision algorithms” and “machine learning tools” to look for jaundice in a person’s eyes.
“The hope is that if people can do this simple test once a month — in the privacy of their own homes — some might catch the disease early enough to undergo treatment that could save their lives,” says lead researcher Alex Mariakakis. “The problem with pancreatic cancer is that by the time you’re symptomatic, it’s frequently too late.”
An intital study has shown an 89,7% success rate in identifying cases of concern. The app’s main advantage is that it can be done at home, for free, in contrast to the usual option of having a blood test done at a healthcare professional.
It will now undergo more extensive testing, and if all goes well, doctors and patients could find themselves on the front foot in the fight against pancreatic cancer.