A capsule which seeks to speed up the diagnosis of colorectal cancer is coming to Queen's and King George hospitals.

The Romford and Goodmayes facilities are taking part in a national trial which will see patients tested for cancer by swallowing a capsule containing a tiny camera.

This innovation - termed the colon capsule endoscopy - aims to take the place of the colonoscopy procedure currently used to detect this form of cancer.

If successful, the technology employed in this trial could prevent patients having to undertake an invasive procedure at hospital.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs the two hospitals, is one of 42 sites to be involved in the 20-month long trial.

Once swallowed by the patient, the capsule containing the camera finds its way to the bowel, where it takes images to be sent to a recording device.

Trust specialist registrar Faidon Laskaratos said: “Unlike an endoscopy or colonoscopy, this procedure is non-invasive and can be carried out in a patient’s own home after the initial visit to swallow the capsule.

“It means people with suspected cancer can be seen and tested in a way that’s convenient for them.”

This is the first time a capsule will be used as a diagnostic tool in the bowel, the trust said.

Faidon added: "We are lucky to be among the first hospitals in the UK to offer this service for patients in north-east London.

“As well as helping us diagnose cancer sooner, we will be able to contribute to an important national research evaluation of colon capsule endoscopy using real-life data."

This news comes hot on the heels of the announcement that BHRUT is part of the Cytosponge clinical trial, which aims to detect the early pre-cancerous conditions of the stomach and oesophagus.

Launched on March 22, this pilot scheme uses a similar method as a diagnostic tool.

The initiative sees patients swallow a capsule attached to a thread, which then dissolves and releases a small piece of sponge.

It is then removed by slowly pulling the thread and captures cells from the gullet, which are sent for testing.