Stanford develops smartphone plug-in to detect oral cancer

Stanford University researchers have created a new smartphone plug-in that they say can quickly--and cheaply--identify potentially cancerous mouth lesions, among other conditions, university officials say.

The device just won a second place award in Vodafone's 2012 Wireless Innovation Project, netting the university $200,000 in cash, and $50,000 in strategic and networking support from the mHealth Alliance, both groups announced this week.

The device is about the size of a pack of gum and clips over the smartphone's camera, according to researchers. It shines fluorescent light into the patient's mouth to highlight lesions and other potential problems.

Still in prototype-stage, the device takes a "high-resolution, panoramic image of a person's complete mouth cavity. Illuminated by the device's blue fluorescent light, malignant cancer lesions are easily detected as dark spots," university officials said in a statement.
The smartphone then transmits the images to a provider, clinic or other facility to be analyzed for a full diagnosis.

Manu Prakash, an assistant bioengineering professor at Stanford and the device's creator, sees the device as having its main use in the developing world, where tobacco use is high, dentists are scarce, and dental checkups few and far between.

Next up: Prakash and his team plan to use their $250,000 in winnings to field test and further develop the device in India.

To learn more:
- here's the Stanford announcement
- read Medgadget's brief on the news
- get more info on Vodafone, mHealth Alliance winners