While a lack of awareness of early signs and symptoms contributes to late diagnosis, early detection of oral cancer also relies on a seamless referral, diagnosis, and pathway management of the patient.
For example, there remains a significant barrier to early diagnosis amongst the rural communities, where a visit to a local clinic could mean half a day of traveling, a long line of waiting at the clinic, and a day’s wage lost. Such factors deter patients from seeking urgent medical attention unless the cancer significantly affects their health and disrupts their daily routine. During this time, the cancer would have progressed to a late stage, where treatment options are limited and patients’ fate fatal.
There are currently no systematic tools that can identify high-risk communities, and a platform for these patients to systematically follow-up is non-existent. However, technological advances in healthcare and cancer therapies have significantly improved alongside nationwide facilities, allowing for wider healthcare coverage to members of the public.
To facilitate early detection, CRM is customising a mobile phone app to detect cancers early on, so that patients are able to receive the appropriate treatment and have better chances of survival. This simple, easy-to-deploy, and relatively low-cost method can be implemented in a low-resource setting to facilitate communications between primary healthcare workers / specialists, resulting in a seamless way of referring and monitoring patients.
To ensure that the use of pictures captured by patients do not compromise the referral decision, we conducted a study that demonstrated high concordance rates between identifying lesions within the oral cavity using those pictures compared to clinical examinations, demonstrating the feasibility of using this approach to promote early detection of oral cancer.