Norfolk to test pill-sized camera that is swallowed to detect cancer

Pill-cam is being trialled at the James Paget University Hospital Gorleston

Patricia Nichols from Caister with the endoscopy team. She is one of the first people in Norfolk to swallow a camera capsule instead of undergoing invasive and uncomfortable tests for bowel cancer. - Credit: JPUH

Patients in Norfolk can swallow a  pill-sized capsule containing two tiny cameras to detect signs of bowel cancer and reduce waiting times.

Once ingested the cameras take high quality pictures that are beamed back to medics in hospital, while the patient continues with their normal routine at home.

PillCam Colon 2 System against white background

PillCam is a capsule containing two miniature cameras which send pictures back to medics in hospital helping them to spot the signs of bowel cancer. Patients at the James Paget Hospital are involved in a trial to assess their worth over conventional invasive procedures. - Credit: JPUH

It is being offered to those with urgent symptoms, instead of having a camera tube inserted in the body.

Detecting cancer is a priority post-Covid according to Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital which is among 42 trusts taking part in the trial to test the futuristic tech.

The service began at the hospital at the end of last month.

Endoscopy team James Paget University Hospital and Pill-Cam

The endoscopy team at the James Paget University Hospital is one of 42 teams in England trialling tiny cameras that patients can swallow instead of the discomfort of a having a tube inserted in the body. - Credit: JPUH

Because the imaging technology, known as a Colon Capsule Endoscopy (CCE), is non-invasive people are not required to isolate before they swallow it, or to take a Covid test. 

Dr Rawya Badreldin, consultant gastroenterolgist and endoscopy clinical lead at the James Paget, said cancer diagnosis and treatment was a priority coming out of the pandemic.

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Dr Kamal Aryal, consultant colorectal surgeon and clinical lead for trial, said another benefit was that patients could continue with their usual medications, such as blood thinning tablets, while preparing for the test.  

He said the JPUH was the first location to start the service in Norfolk and Waveney, adding: "This innovative technique will help us to move forward in providing latest diagnostic services for our patients in our community.”  

Capsule camera at James Paget University Hospital

Lisa Hobbs from Lowestoft with Dr Kamal Aryal is among the first people to swallow a tiny capsule camera looking to detect signs of cancer. - Credit: JPUH

Mr Roshan Lal, clinical lead for surgery, praised the teamwork of everyone involved.  

He said: “The addition of this service will provide an alternative test, reduce the waiting times for urgent bowel cancer referrals, and will go a long way in improving the service we provide to our local community.”

Among the first patients to join the trial were Patricia Nichols from Caister, and Lisa Hobbs from Lowestoft.