An Israeli start-up has created a cancer detection device using a cellphone, a clip-on lens and an app, a development that has the potential to provide life-saving intervention for patients.

The company, MobileOCT, won first place last week in Vodafone’s Wireless Innovation Project Competition for its creative use of mobile phone technology for diagnosing cervical cancer.

“It takes a ubiquitous device, and builds a mobile, low-cost cancer-screening platform,” said Dr. David Levitz, Chief Technology Officer of MobileOCT.

MobileOCT's cellphone system with lens attached and a handle on the bottom for stability. (Image source: YouTube)

MobileOCT’s cellphone system with lens attached and a handle on the bottom for stability. (Image source: YouTube)

Gynecologists in the U.S. and elsewhere screen for cervical cancer with routine pap smears. If the result is positive, the next step is examination through a colposcope which provides a magnified view of the cervix.

The business and technology publication Fast Company noted that video colposcopes cost between $10,000 and $14,000; therefore, they are not as readily available in the developing world where healthcare workers often use flashlights to screen for cervical cancer.

“They’re missing early-stage cases and overtreating 5 out of 6 times,” MobileOCT CEO Ariel Beery said.

The healthcare worker sees a magnified image to detect for cervical cancer. (Image source: YouTube)

The healthcare worker sees a magnified image to detect for cervical cancer. (Image source: YouTube)

By contrast, MobileOCT’s cancer screening hardware and software together cost only $400. Its lens captures the image of the cervix, which is then analyzed for the presence of cancerous cells.

“The MobileOCT Scope consists of both hardware and software–a clip-on lens and software that helps clarify images of the cervix. Once an image has been taken, it’s easy to send to a doctor to decide whether or not to perform treatment,” Fast Company reported.

This video describes how the device works:

The Times of Israel reported that the medical start-up company has already conducted cervical cancer screenings using cellphones for 1,000 low-income women along the border between San Diego and Tijuana.

While it is currently focused on cervical cancer, the Tel Aviv-based company aims to roll out similar screening systems for other types of cancers.

The Wall Street Journal noted that results from clinical trials are still pending and “there are thus no peer-reviewed articles about their device yet.”

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