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Camera pill (Colonic Capsule Endoscopy) for screening of colorectal cancer

Using a “camera pill” as an alternative screening method for colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in Denmark. To reduce the incidence rate, a national screening test (to be performed at home) was initiated in April 2014 for citizens aged 50 to 74.

The screening programme has caused a rise in the number of people needing a colonoscopy in the hospital to determine whether they have cancer or early stages of cancer, because the screening procedure often shows positive results. Both the screening test (submission of faeces sample) and colonoscopies are very uncomfortable and represent a great burden on the healthcare system. In addition, colonoscopies carry a considerable risk of serious complications and are very expensive. For this reason there is a great necessity to explore simpler and cheaper ways to test and diagnose patients.
PillCam w text

Colon Capsule Endoscopy (CCE) is a promising new technology that has the potential to complement the two existing diagnostic methods to screen people for colorectal cancer. CCE is carried out by swallowing a mini camera that takes pictures of the colon while passing unnoticed through the body.

The project will evaluate the efficiency of CCE in the detection of abnormalities compared to normal colonoscopy. The method has been tested for patients with symptoms of cancer but never in a screening perspective.



The advantage of the camera-pill examination is that it can be carried out at home and is a lot less uncomfortable and invasive than a colonoscopy. So the advantage for society may be a higher acceptance rate for participation in the screening programme and an improved survival rate if this method proves to be as efficient as colonoscopy. The current screening (submission of a faeces sample) is repulsive to the majority of people and also has a high rate of false negatives and false positives. The results of this project have a great potential for reducing the burden on the healthcare system that numerous colonoscopies currently represent.


The pilot study – ended summer 2016

To validate whether the capsule camera catches the same abnormalities as colonoscopy, a comparative study with 250 citizens from the national screening programme was initiated in the spring of 2015. The day before the planned colonoscopy the participants performed the video examination by swallowing the video capsule and attaching a monitor on their body. When the capsule had passed through the body, the monitor was sent to the hospital and the data transferred to the server. Clinical personnel then evaluated and compared results of the video examination and the colonoscopy.

The pilot study ended in the spring of 2016 and was very positive. The results showed that the camera pill detects twice as many abnormalities in the colon than a colonoscopy – and is much less uncomfortable and carries less risk for the person undergoing the examination.

Next step: Large scale study

After the successful pilot study the next step is to carry out a large clinical study with 3000 participants to validate the results from the pilot study. During this project there will also be discussions with the company behind the technology, as it is currently much too expensive due to low volume turnover to be a viable alternative to the current screening methods.


Practical information about the project

The pilot started in the spring of 2015 with the initial analyses, development of research protocal, approval by the National Committee on Health Research Ethics and drafting the partnership agreements for the project. The project has now started testing on patients and getting preliminary results.
The overall project is expected to run for a minimum of two years.



The study is led by the Dept. of Surgergy A at OUH (Odense, Nyborg and Svendborg) represented by prof. Niels Qvist and prof. Gunnar Baatrup. Also participating are Sundhed.dk who will deliver the IT platform and the German Company, Corporate Health, who are in charge of analyzing the data from the tests. The PillCam is owned by Covidien (who is now a part of MedTronic) who have chosen to collaborate with the company Corporate Health for clinical testing in Europe. For this purpose, Corporate Health has established an office in Odense already, in the Science Park.

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HIMSS Turkey 2014 - Day 1

Henrik Gaunsbæk
Innovation consultant




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