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UK study investigates potential of AI to improve colonoscopy

Researchers from nine locations across the England are using an AI technology to improve polyp detection during colonoscopies allowing doctors to detect signs of bowel cancer at its earliest stages, with the ultimate aim of saving lives.

When diagnosed at its earliest stage more than 9 in 10 people with bowel cancer will survive their disease for over 5 years compared with 1 in 10 when it’s diagnosed late. The study is hoping to recruit over 2000 participants before September 2022.

Colorectal cancer affects 1 in 15 men and 1 in 18 women in the UK with 16,600 deaths every year; it is the UK’s second most deadly cancer. Bowel cancer starts when a polyp (or ‘adenoma’) progresses to cancer, but it can be prevented if detected early enough. Colonoscopy is the ‘gold standard’ assessment for bowel cancer and Adenoma Detection Rate (ADR) (which measures how many polyps the doctor removes) has a notable impact on bowel cancer outcomes. Studies have shown that just a 1% increase in ADR is associated with a 3% decrease in the risk for bowel cancer.

Previous studies (which were limited by being undertaken in very specialist units) have shown that Medtronic’s GI Genius Module could lead to an absolute increase in ADR of 14%. The COLO-DETECT study hopes to support these findings with robust clinical data. The study lead, Consultant Gastroenterologist at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Gastroenterology at Newcastle University, Prof. Colin Rees comments: “The introduction of AI into colonoscopies is a very exciting breakthrough and we have already seen that it has the potential to significantly increase ADR. Our aim is to assess how much GI Genius can improve ADR when compared to standard colonoscopies without AI. From this study we hope to gather evidence to further the adoption of AI into routine colonoscopy practice across the NHS, helping to reduce bowel cancer deaths across the UK.”

Dr. Laura Neilson, Consultant Gastroenterologist at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, who was the first to recruit a patient into the trial, said “Bowel cancer is entirely treatable and in most cases curable, especially if it’s diagnosed early - which is why this study is so important.”

The GI Genius AI endoscopy module is trained through reviewing more than 13 million polyp images of various shapes and sizes. The algorithm enhances clinicians’ ability to detect polyps during a colonoscopy examination. When it detects a polyp, it alerts the physician with a visual marker on-screen (acting as a ‘virtual’ second observer to the procedure).

Dr. Tom Lee, Consultant Gastroenterologist, has been using the AI technology for 4 months at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust: “The technology integrates with my hospital’s existing colonoscopy equipment and alerts the endoscopist to the presence of a polyp or other abnormalities with a green box on the screen. It helps us to spot even very subtle polyps – smaller, flatter or partially hidden in a fold of the bowel. I believe that AI could help reduce variation in colonoscopy, among endoscopists but also among individual doctor’s performance. It is well known that doctors tend to spot more polyps or adenomas in the morning than the afternoon for example. When bowel cancer screening colonoscopies are of a consistently high standard, we can hope to improve bowel cancer outcomes across the NHS.”

COLO-DETECT is the first major industry study being run as part of the COLO-SPEED network (https://colospeed.uk/) which is funded by the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, part of Newcastle Hospital’s Charity. 

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Infection 360: What's trending in infection prevention & control

Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham
27-28 September 2022

IP2022 IS COMING TO BOURNEMOUTH IN OCTOBER 2022

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17-19 October 2022

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Pendulum Hotel and Manchester Conference Centre, Manchester
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Dusseldorf Germany
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ExCel, London
15th - 16th November 2022

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The Eastside Rooms, Birmingham
29th - 30th November 2022

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

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