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Pill camera one of three new techniques to fight cancer

A tiny camera in a pill is one of three new innovative approaches to fighting cancer being made available to patients in west Suffolk for the first time.

The high-tech device can be swallowed by patients at home, allowing specialists to get a detailed look at their bowel while avoiding the need for long and uncomfortable hospital visits.

The footage from the disposable camera is recorded on a small device the patient wears, before being transferred to the hospital for analysis.

The pill cam is one of three new approaches being pioneered at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

The hospital’s endoscopy team is also introducing a new test for cell changes in the oesophagus – the tube that carries food to the stomach – called a cytosponge. The cytosponge is an innovative test for Barrett’s oesophagus – a condition that can increase a person’s risk of developing oesophageal - or food pipe - cancer

The patient swallows a small capsule containing a ‘sponge on a string’. The capsule dissolves allowing the sponge to expand, which then collects samples from the oesophagus for testing as it is removed.

The hospital has also invested in new equipment to allow more traditional endoscopy tests – where a flexible tube is inserted to allow filming and for small samples to be taken – to be carried out via a patient’s nose instead of their mouth.

This makes the procedure quicker and more comfortable for the patient. The reduced need for sedation means the patient can normally talk to the team during the procedure, and go home straight after.

As well as the investment in equipment, the hospital has recruited new staff to support the roll out of the new techniques.

Cancer lead & consultant surgeon Antonia Wells said: “These innovative approaches will allow lead us to a faster diagnosis for many patients including those with suspected cancers.”

Nurse endoscopist Annie Kelling said: “The feedback so far has been very positive. These new approaches help us see more people, more quickly and also allow us to free up more appointments for our established endoscopy procedures.

“This all helps reduce anxiety for patients, and the quicker we can diagnose a condition the quicker we can get on and start to offer treatment.”

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Endoscopy team members Nicola Gogin, Annie Kelling, and Winona Fajardo with the cytosponge test

Endoscopy team members Nicola Gogin, Annie Kelling, and Winona Fajardo with the cytosponge test