Tiny camera in a pill will allow patients to check for bowel cancer at home

A TINY camera in a pill that allows patients to carry out cancer checks at home is being offered by the NHS.

The device is swallowed with water, then takes two pictures a second as it passes through.

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As well as picking up early signs of stomach and bowel cancer, it can help doctors spot other gut conditions such as Crohn’s disease.

The images are beamed to a hip-worn recorder which will allow medics to provide a diagnosis within hours.

Experts say that as well as being faster and more convenient, the £500 kit will spare patients an uncomfortable intimate examination.

NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens said: “As we come out of ‘peak Covid’ and the disruption of the pandemic, the NHS is now pushing ahead with genuine innovation to expand services for many other conditions.

"That’s why we’re now trialling these ingenious capsule cameras to allow more people to undergo cancer investigations quickly and safely. What sounds like sci-fi is now becoming a reality.”

Experts also say the tech cuts the risk of spreading Covid because there is no need for patients to go to hospital for a procedure where a tube is inserted in their bottoms.

As we come out of ‘peak Covid’, the NHS is pushing ahead with genuine innovation.

NHS bosses will send out 11,000 of the at-home checks — known as a colon capsule endoscopy — to patients over the next 12 months, as part of a £6million pilot.

If successful, they could be used routinely to check for cancer.

About half of patients are now waiting more than six weeks for a colonoscopy because of the Covid crisis — up from just one in eight a year earlier.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, with more than 40,000 new cases annually. It kills 16,000 people a year.

Bowel Cancer UK chief executive Genevieve Edwards said: “This has the potential to make a huge difference for people with bowel cancer symptoms and could help the NHS to prioritise those who urgently need further tests.”

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