Pancreatic cancer has one of the worst prognoses--with a five-year survival rate of 9 percent--in part because there are no telltale symptoms or noninvasive screening tools to catch a tumor before it spreads. Now, researchers have developed an app that could allow people to easily screen for pancreatic cancer and other diseases by snapping a smartphone selfie. BiliScreen uses a smartphone camera, computer vision algorithms and machine learning tools to detect increased bilirubin levels in a person’s sclera, or the white part of the eye. One of the earliest symptoms of pancreatic cancer, as well as other diseases, is jaundice, a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the blood. In an initial clinical study of 70 people, the BiliScreen app--used in conjunction with a 3-D printed box that controls the eye’s exposure to light--correctly identified cases of concern 89.7 percent of the time, compared to the blood test currently used.
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