Artificial intelligence could help lower colon cancer rates in Hawaii, experts say

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Each year, about a third of the 160,000 people diagnosed with colon cancer die.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 10:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Each year, about a third of the 160,000 people diagnosed with colon cancer die. But experts say those deaths are preventable if the cancer is detected and treated early through screenings like a colonoscopy -- where a doctor uses a long tube with a fiber optic camera to look for abnormal growths in your large intestine.

Watch this video to see Annalisa’s first-hand experience getting a colonoscopy.

Now three clinics on Oahu are the first to use artificial intelligence in colonoscopies. Gastroenterology expert Dr Yousif A-Rahim says AI is revolutioning the healthcare industry and helping doctors work smarter.

“We look at things we our eyes are trained AI takes us a very long time to train to do what we do to look for abnormalities. And so computer vision is a segment of AI, which basically we use in our machines here. And the machine. And in this case, it’s a the only FDA approved artificial intelligence device in the United States called GI Genius,” said Dr. A-Rahim, chief medical officer for Covenant Physician Partners. “Unlike a human being who can get tired, your eyes can get tired, you can get distracted, unintentional blindness can happen, you may just completely miss things, you may get fatigued because you’re doing too many cases per day. A computer does not get sick does not get tired.”

“It serves as a second set of eyes for the physician during a colonoscopy procedure, something that everybody above the age of 45 should be receiving. Right. So this touches a lot of patients lives and a lot of physicians hands. And ultimately, what it does is it has a database of 13 million images of polyps of all shapes, sizes, morphology, and it’s cross cross referencing the live footage that the physician is looking at, in real time with this database. And anytime there’s an abnormality, as we call it in the patient’s body, the GI genius will put a very simple green box around the suspicious area, then highlighting that area for the physician,” explained Andrew Namanny of MedTronic Artificial Intelligence.

This new tool is already raising the bar for colon cancer detection, experts say.

“They did back to back colonoscopies, one with artificial intelligence and one without, and what they saw is that adding artificial intelligence cut the miss rate in half, just by adding GI Genius to the procedures,” Namanny said.

Health experts believe the real winners are patients.

“I do feel peace of mind that there’s an additional layer of I guess, technology there to help the doctors and nurses,” said one colonoscopy patient who asked us not to disclose her identity.

It’s another good reason to get screened for colon cancer when you’re 45 years old and older, even if you don’t have symptoms.

HNN reporter Annalisa Burgos walks you through what the procedure entails.