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Bowel Cancer Will Become Top Cancer in Hong Kong CUHK Introduces Colon Pill Camera to Prevent Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer is currently the second common cancer in Hong Kong with more than 4,300 new cases and 1,700 deaths per year. Statistics from Hospital Authority indicated that its incidence has been projected to surpass lung cancer as top cancer in Hong Kong by 2013. The most commonly used screening tools are fecal blood tests and colonoscopy. Fecal blood tests require yearly screening, whereas colonoscopy is perceived as invasive. The Institute of Digestive Disease at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) introduces an innovative technology — colon pill camera for screening bowel cancer. The user only needs to swallow a pill camera with front and rear lens which will travel through the entire large bowel to capture images. Colonic images can be viewed at real-time and the video can be analysed by an accredited health professional within the same day. This test is simple, quick, user-friendly, causing very minimal discomfort and inconvenience to users. 



From left: Prof. Ka Leung CHAN, Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics and Director of Institute of Digestive Disease; Prof. Joseph Jao Yiu SUNG, Founding Director of Institute of Digestive Disease and Prof. Martin Chi Sang WONG, Associate Professor, Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care and Director of Jockey Club Bowel Cancer Education Centre at CUHK.

According to a 2006 survey by the Institute, embarrassment and fear of pain arising from screening procedures are two major obstacles of screening. Therefore, popularity of screening remains low in Hong Kong. Prof. Joseph Jao-Yiu Sung, the Founding Director of the Institute said, 'This new tool is accurate, safe, non-invasive, requiring no sedation, and is likely to be an acceptable test of choice for Hong Kong citizens.'

'This new diagnostic tool has much potential in bowel cancer prevention. It may be used as a screening tool, and also be able to help decide if a patient should do colonoscopy after a positive fecal test. The Institute will continue to explore its potentials in screening and diagnosis of large bowel diseases,' said Prof. Francis Ka Leung Chan, Director of the Institute. Professor Sung and Professor Chan remarked that this new technology has potential to reduce the incidence and mortality of bowel cancer in Hong Kong.

The Institute of Digestive Disease is the first Centre of Excellence in Asia to offer training programmes for accreditation to the healthcare professionals in the Asia Pacific region. The trainees are required to attend a series of seminars and workshops to learn how to analyse the images and video taken from the colon pill camera. All trainees have to pass the examination in order to obtain accreditation.

Members of the public who wish to take the test and healthcare professionals who are interested to attend the training programmes can register via the website of the Institute or a 24-hour automated telephone system:


  1. Website: (Registration period: 17 Sept 2012 to 16 Oct 2012) or
  2. 24-hour automated telephone system: 3151-5667 (Registration period: 17 Sept 2012 to 7 Oct 2012)



(From right) Prof. Ka Leung CHAN, Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics and Director of Institute of Digestive Disease at CUHK explains the real-time video taken by the colon pill camera after the patient (left) had swallowed it.


The colon pill camera with front and rear lens will travel through the entire large bowel to capture images.


About The Institute of Digestive Disease, CUHK

The Institute of Digestive Disease at CUHK provides health education on bowel cancer to the public, and reaches out to the communities through its resources, events and partnerships with other health organizations. It hopes to spread the message that early detection and prevention of bowel cancer can save lives.

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