CerviScan, an innovative digital microscope, a telemedicine platform and a cloud storage platform
Project start date : 02/09/2016
Beneficiary country : Cameroon
About the project
This project comprises the following tools: a Smartphone mobile app called CerviScan, an innovative digital microscope, a telemedicine platform and a cloud storage platform. It allows the remote diagnosis of breast and cervical cancers for patients’ located in rural and enclaved areas, by specialists in urban centres. The Smartphone app and Telemedicine platform enable images and short videos to be captured and forwarded to a specialist for remote and instant diagnosis. The digital microscope which can be connected to a Smartphone prepares pathology slides of suspected breast lumps to be scanned and sent instantly to pathologists for analysis and diagnosis. It is very portable, and doesn’t require any direct source of electricity to function. It is thus adapted to rural areas. The Cloud storage system allows a secured storage of data, accessible anywhere.
Process for Cervical Cancer Screening – Using a smartphone, a woman’s data is collected through the CerviScan app and the Telemedicine platform by a trained nurse in a rural area. Images and short videos of the woman’s cervix are then captured in the app after treatment with two reagents (acetic acid and Lugol’s iodine solution). Thereafter, these data are instantly uploaded to the GIC Med cloud platform and are accessed and viewed by a higher medical specialist in real time. Subsequently, the specialist reviews the data and confirms diagnosis of any precancerous or cancerous lesion.
Process for Breast Cancer Screening : After being trained, a nurse or midwife initiates the screening process by, firstly, performing a clinical breast exam on a woman coming for screening. If a wound is detected, a syringe is used to remove the wound, and the sample taken is used to prepare the pathological slide, using simple techniques adapted to rural areas. After that, the slide is placed under the digital microscope and then images and short videos of the sample are captured through the digital microscope and forwarded to a pathologist through the Telemedicine platform. The pathologist analyses all data and images in real time, and then sends back results through the same secure telemedicine channel, confirming any diagnosis of a cancerous lesion.
Tracking and Treating Positive Cases : Positive cancer cases in a given health area can thereafter be geo-located through the GIC Med platform and regrouped for treatment by a mobile treatment unit, or tracked down to the nearest treatment facility using the GIC Med platform.
Our project targets breast and cervical cancers, leading causes of cancer related morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa where they accounted for 45.4% of new cases of cancers amongst women in 2012. In Cameroon, the contribution of breast and cervical cancers to the national burden of cancer has been significantly high for over four decades. According to the International Agency for Cancer Research, Breast Cancer has the highest incidence among Cameroonian women with an Age- Standardised Ratio of 2,625 new cases per 100,000 women per year, thus accounting for 31.5% of all cancer in women. Cancer of the cervix ranks second among Cameroonian women with an Age- Standardised Ratio of 1,993 new cases per 100,000 women per year, representing 23.9% of all new cases of cancer in women. When treatment options are few and prognosis is poor, approximatively 95% of patients with cancer in Cameroon are diagnosed with late or end-stage cancer. Screening techniques such as Mammography are centralised making them almost inaccessible for the rural, peri-urban and some of the Urban population. Moreover, its cost can prove to be a huge barrier to its accessibility for the rural population. This is especially the case for Pathological diagnosis, a heavy burden because of the limited number of Pathologists and Pathology Laboratories, only 5 laboratories nationwide.
This project allows a secure electronic record and storage of patient infomation and medical history. Our simple and efficient Telemedicine platform enables healthcare providers in rural settings to share patient information and images, interact and discuss with higher level specialists in urban areas. This is very helpful in upgrading knowledge and skills of personnel in rural areas.
It equally enables remote diagnosis for patients in remote areas by specialists in urban areas for breast and cervical cancer in real time. These specialists are only currently available in urban cities, far from the rural population.
It also guarantees secure channels for referring patients and patient tracking in real time using mobile technology, therefore reinforcing the currently weak patient referral and tracking system.
It further enables gathering of reliable data for future assessment for public health utility, planning and policy drafting. This kind of data was previously unreliable and absent in most cases.
Furthermore, the platform is very valuable to share data and get second opinions in difficult cases, especially for pathological diagnosis.
Its valuable role for educational purposes cannot be underestimated where digital files could easily be accessed to better train medical nurses, medical students, doctors and residents.
Finally, this innovation is extremely beneficial in reducing time normally needed for samples to be received and analysed by pathologists. The time and cost burden incurred when samples have to be collected, stored and forwarded to other towns for pathologists analysis is significantly cut off.
8 Full-Time equivalents
N/C Service providers
Number of beneficiaries since launch