When it comes to medical technology, sometimes simpler is better. That’s what researchers in the United Kingdom are finding out while testing for gullet (throat) cancer. Doctors typically do an endoscopy to diagnose gullet cancer. An endoscopy is when doctors feed a tube with a camera down a patient’s throat. They take samples of cells to test for cancer during this process. However, an endoscopy requires anesthesia, or pain-blocking drugs, and can be unpleasant.
This new method seems low-tech in comparison. It’s a sponge on a string. The sponge is in a small capsule. When swallowed, it expands to collect cells along the throat. The doctor pulls the sponge back up the throat with the string — and the patient is awake for the whole thing! Even so, most people in the study preferred the sponge over the endoscopy. Which would you prefer?