Cancer is a complex set of diseases, but of the many cancers, none is more deadly, more quickly, than pancreatic cancer. This is, in part, because pancreatic cancer is incredibly hard to diagnose. Early in its formation, there simply aren’t any symptoms for doctors to notice. Except one, and you can spot it with a selfie.
Researchers at the University of Washington have developed an app called Biliscreen. You simply snap a selfie, in either a well-lit environment or using a set of special 3D-printed goggles, and the app analyzes the whites of your eyes. Pancreatic tumors often block the liver’s bile duct, which allows a compound called bilirubin to collect in the blood. The app looks for a yellowish tint in the eyes, which the human eye can’t perceive, to find those elevated levels. Granted, pancreatic cancer is far from the only reason you might have a high bilirubin level, but it’s probably something you want a doctor to look at either way.
This can also be done with a blood test but the app, which can detect elevated bilirubin almost 90% of the time, is cheaper, faster, and non-invasive. It’s also a lot easier to sell people on, and might even be able to be worked into other apps. Paired with skin cancer-detecting algorithms and a growing interest in medical devices taking the place of regular physicals, we might soon be at the point where you get a checkup every week, thanks to the phone in your pocket.