Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size

New Pill May Screen for Colon Cancer

Early Colon Imaging Capsule Results ‘Encouraging’
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 22, 2007 -- In the future, getting screened for colon cancer may be as simple as taking a pill.

Researchers say they are encouraged by early results from an ongoing study comparing a pill-delivered imaging device with colonoscopy for detection of colon polyps and colon cancer screening. Colon polyps are growths that can become cancerous.

Similar imaging devices, called PillCams, are already being used to screen for esophageal and small intestine disease.

But it is not yet clear if the same technology will prove to be a useful tool for colon cancer screening.

The camera ‘pill’, which is the size of a large multivitamin, travels though the body capturing images along the way -- at a speed of four images per second in the case of the colon cam.

Pill-based endoscopy requires at least as much prep to clean out the colon as is needed with colonoscopy, but the actual test involves little more from the patient than swallowing a pill.

Not as Accurate as Colonoscopy

Interim findings from an ongoing European trial with a target of 329 patients were presented Tuesday in Washington at an international meeting of digestive disease specialists.

Researcher Jacques Deviere, MD, of Brussel’s Erasme University Hospital reported on results from 84 patients who had the capsule imaging procedure followed by colonoscopy screening.

Standard preparation techniques for colonoscopy screening resulted in excellent to good imaging with the ingestible endoscopy technique in two-thirds of patients and fair to poor imaging in the remaining third.

The PillCam did not detect as many polyps as colonoscopy, but Deviere and colleagues concluded that it is accurate enough to be a useful tool for colon cancer screening.

A spokesman for the Israeli company that makes the pill camera, Given Imaging Ltd, tells WebMD that the goal is not to replace colonoscopy, but to offer an alternative to patients who are unable or unwilling to undergo the invasive procedure.

“It is not quite as good as colonoscopy, but it is much easier on the patient,” says Mark Gilreath. “There is no sedation and no hospitalization.”

Gilreath says the company hopes to win approval to sell the colon imaging device in the United States by the end of the year.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
New Colorectal Treatments
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
Cancer Facts Quiz
Virtual Colonoscopy
Picture of the Colon
Vitamin D