Selfie could help detect pancreatic cancer

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Scientists have suggested that a selfie could help detect whether a person is suffering from pancreatic cancer or other diseases.

Researchers at University of Washington have developed an app called BiliScreen app that they claim will allow identify pancreatic cancer and other diseases by just clicking a selfie. The app uses the 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 discolouration of the skin and eyes caused by a buildup of bilirubin in the blood, researchers said. The ability to detect signs of jaundice when bilirubin levels are minimally elevated – but before they are visible to the naked eye – could enable an entirely new screening programme for individuals at risk, they said.

The team developed a computer vision system to automatically and effectively isolate the white parts of the eye, which is a valuable tool for medical diagnostics. The app then calculates the colour information from the sclera-based on the wavelengths of light that are being reflected and absorbed and correlates it with bilirubin levels using machine learning algorithms.

To account for different lighting conditions, the team tested BiliScreen with two different accessories: paper glasses printed with coloured squares to help calibrate colour and a three dimensional (3D) printed box that blocks out ambient lighting.

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