Smartphone device scans for oral cancer

A new smartphone accessory device could prevent thousands of deaths that occur each year from oral cancer in developing countries, according to a Stanford School of Medicine news release. The OScan device, developed by Assistant Bioengineering Professor Manu Prakash, creates high-detail images of the mouth cavity to screen for potential lesions.

The OScan device, which is estimated to have a material mass production cost of no more than a few dollars, is approximately the size of a pack of gum and attaches to the built-in camera function of a smartphone. It consists of a mouth positioner attachment, a circuit board and two rows of fluorescent-light-emitting diodes.

The images OScan takes are panoramas of the patient’s mouth illuminated by blue fluorescent light emitted by the device. Any malignant cancerous lesions in the patient’s mouth show up in the panorama as dark spots amid the blue light.

The OScan team was awarded first place for the mHealth Alliance Award, and second place for the Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project. The team will use the $250,000 of Vodafone funding for further field-testing of the device and software application in India.

In India, 40 percent of cancer-related deaths are due to oral cancer, and there is one dentist for every 250,000 residents in rural areas. In the United States, oral cancer is the sixth most frequently found type of cancer.

Prakash’s team includes James Clements, a first-year bioengineering graduate student, medical student Dhruv Boddupalli and Cupertino High School student Aditya Gande. Stanford has filed for a patent on the OScan smartphone-accessory technology.

 

– Alice Phillips