'Selfie' app could detect early signs of pancreatic cancer

The app is designed to help people get early treatment if needed, however it cannot replace a blood test.

    2017/09/04

NSFW    SEATTLE — Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a smartphone app that could detect the early signs of pancreatic cancer by analyzing users' selfies.

Bilirubin is a bile pigment produced when the liver breaks down old red blood cells. One of the symptoms of pancreatic cancer is jaundice, caused by an accumulation of bilirubin in the body.

"The eyes are a really interesting gateway into the body -- tears can tell you how much glucose you have, sclera can tell you how much bilirubin is in your blood," Shwetak Patel, senior author of the study and a professor in computer science and engineering at the University of Washington said in a statement quoted by Medical Daily.

The BiliScreen app is used in conjunction with a 3D printed box that controls light exposure for the eye, or with paper glasses that helps calibrate color.

After the user has taken a selfie, the app's computer vision algorithms and machine learning tools can spot even the slightest increase in bilirubin levels in the sclera.

The app is designed to help people get early treatment if needed, however it cannot replace a blood test.
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