In the western world, colorectal cancer is now the third most frequent cancer and the second most common cause of cancer deaths. In the US nearly 150,000 new cases are being diagnosed each year and more than 56,000 people died from the disease in 2002. In the UK, around 15,000 people die from the disease each year.
Current screening techniques are notoriously inaccurate, leading to many false positives which saturate resources available for follow-up diagnosis. But scientists at the University of Glasgow have pioneered a new sensor technology, Lab-in-a-Pill, that could have major impact on the cost and effectiveness of bowel cancer treatment. At the core of Lab-in-a-Pill is a miniaturised sensor, processing and communications module all enclosed in a chemical-resistant capsule which currently measures around 3cm x 1cm in prototype form. This sensor wirelessly transmits data to a receiver pack worn on the outside of the body. The device has been taken to laboratory-scale. Prototyping of devices and in-vivo trials remain to be completed.