Researchers in Washington have created a simple, accurate way to self-test for pancreatic cancer via smartphone, said Mallory Locklear at Engadget​. The app, BiliScreen, works with a smartphone's camera, using "computer vision algorithms to detect levels of the chemical bilirubin in the whites of a person's eyes." Bilirubin levels increase as pancreatic cancer develops and render the whites of the eye yellow. By the time the yellow coloring is visible to the naked eye, the disease is typically well advanced, with a low survival rate. But BiliScreen can detect very low levels of bilirubin and give users an assessment of their risk for the disease.

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The team at the University of Washington says the app is easier and cheaper than a blood test, and can be used before any symptoms are apparent. BiliScreen operates now with a special eye box to "block out ambient light" or with paper glasses, but developers aim to have the app functioning without accessories this month.