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Artificial intelligence helps UH doctors better detect colon cancer

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A colonoscopy is the best way to detect colon and rectal cancers, and usually a doctor uses their experience to recognize areas of concern and send tissue samples for testing.

However, doctors at University Hospitals are getting help – from a computer designed to look at images of the colon and detect subtle changes that even a pair of well-trained human eyes could miss.

The system, called GI Genius, is a software module that acts as doctors’ second set of eyes. It continuously monitors and analyzes images during a colonoscopy and highlights suspicious polyps with a real-time visual marker – alerting the doctor to areas where they believe further examination is warranted. And it finds them 99.7% of the time, according to data from Medtronic, which manufactures the module.

Data published in the journal Gastroenterology last July showed the technology reduced the number of colorectal polyps missed during a standard colonoscopy by up to 50%.

“Every 1% increase in the detection rate of adenomas reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by 3%,” said Dr. Gerard Isenberg, director of medical quality at the UH Digestive Health Institute. “There is currently no other technology that achieves this success rate.”

UH began using the AI ​​module in March at its main campus and says it’s the first hospital in Ohio to fully integrate the technology into its endoscopy departments.

This fall, UH will receive five more modules as part of an award through Medtronic’s Health Equity Assistance Program for colorectal cancer screening. Medtronic and Amazon Web Services donate the units to facilities that provide care to medically underserved communities with low rates of colorectal cancer screening or where access to this advanced technology is not currently available.

UH is one of 62 facilities in the United States receiving donated GI Genius modules. The hospital plans to place one of the new units in each of its general endoscopy wards and one unit at UH Ahuja Medical Center. Eventually, UH plans to have 20 in its entire system.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common and second deadliest cancer in adults in the United States. But when caught early, some types of colorectal cancers can have a five-year survival rate of over 90%.

Death rate colorectal cancer are higher in northeast Ohio than nationally, and rates of diagnoses in people under age 50 are also increasing locally according to statistics from the Cancer Incidence Surveillance System from Ohio. Additionally, African Americans are disproportionately affected and have a lower five-year survival rate.

The higher death rates in northeast Ohio are concerning, Isenberg says, and underscore the need for better testing capabilities in our region.

“This statistic is worrying and shows why we need to start screening at age 45 in people without risk factors, as several national organizations are now recommending, and even earlier in people with risk factors,” Isenberg said.

“This AI module has a direct impact on our ability to improve colon cancer screening and prevention and offers technology that will likely reduce health care disparities in our community.”

On Monday, Geoff Martha, CEO of Medtronic, the company that developed the GI Genius module, spoke to a large audience of Case Western Reserve biomedical engineering students and faculty about the role of AI in the future of medical technology.

“It creeps into everything we do,” said Martha, who discussed the company’s use of AI in spinal surgery, deep brain stimulation to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s and diabetes management. According to Martha, many aspects of medicine that depend on the skills and experience of the doctor or surgeon can be improved by AI. “We bring technology to this and turn it from an art to a science,” he said.

“Having colorectal cancer is often bad news,” Isenberg said. “We look forward to helping our community by providing access to a tool that will help detect lesions before they turn into cancers and hopefully prevent further cases.”

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