Stomach cancer is the 5th most common cancer globally, with an incidence rate accounting for approximately 7% of new cancer cases each year. Disease prevalence is highly dependent on geographic location, with over 50% of cases occurring in East Asia. To screen for stomach cancer, a visual inspection of the stomach cavity is performed by passing a flexible endoscope into the stomach via the mouth or nose. With the implementation of adequate screening programs, a significant reduction in mortality rates has been demonstrated through early detection of disease. However, screening programmes in many low-to-middle income countries are non-existent or ineffective due to economic and logistical limitations in providing the sedation, monitoring and reprocessing equipment associated with traditional endoscopy.
Through a radical re-thinking of the way traditional endoscopes work, are manufactured and operated, we have developed the BellowScope – a solution that is a fraction of the cost of traditional devices, single-use, more intuitive to operate, and has the potential to reduce patient discomfort. Our innovative combination of a multi-backbone ‘snake-like’ handle and soft pneumatically driven camera tip presents a step change in endoscope design, and may enable screening programs be implemented at lower cost and in locations previously unserved.