Colon capsule to reduce diagnosis time for suspected cancer patients

A prototype of the capsule

We are pleased to be part of a national trial which will see patients swallow a capsule containing a tiny camera to test for suspected colorectal cancer.

The colon capsule endoscopy is a new innovation and means patients can be diagnosed sooner than a traditional endoscopy, which involves the patient visiting hospital and having an invasive procedure called a colonoscopy.

The capsule is swallowed and carries a small camera through the body. As it passes through the bowel, it is able to provide images and send the data to a recording device.

Capsules have previously been used for assessments and studies of bowels but this trial is the first that will see it used as a diagnostic tool for suspected colorectal cancer patients.

Faidon Laskaratos, specialist registrar at our Trust, said: “Unlike an endoscopy or colonoscopy, this procedure is non-invasive and can be carried out in a patient’s own home after the initial visit to swallow the capsule.

“It means people with suspected cancer can be seen and tested in a way that’s convenient for them.”

This technology is being rolled out to 42 sites across the UK, including our Trust, as part of a 20-month trial. This is the biggest scheme looking at real-life data to date.

Faidon added: “We are lucky to be among the first hospitals in the UK to offer this service for patients in north-east London. Sue Mason, specialist nurse, is also involved and brings the years of experience of helping the capsule service.

“As well as helping us diagnose cancer sooner, we will be able to contribute to an important national research evaluation of colon capsule endoscopy using real-life data.

“Our Trust has started using colon capsule endoscopy as a minimally-invasive tool to investigate appropriate patients with suspected cancer. Since this is a diagnostic test, we target use of this technology to low-risk patient groups who are less likely to have significant abnormalities. However, if abnormalities are found, we are able to direct patients to further appropriate investigation or treatment. Our experienced team of doctors and nurse specialists carefully review each case individually to decide on the selection process.”

In north east London, our Trust and Homerton University Hospital are the only two trusts offering the colon capsule for suspected cancer.

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