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Digital & Innovation

AI-powered intervention to personalise bowel cancer detection for at-risk Australians

Health Industry Hub | July 7, 2023 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: In a pioneering move, South Australia is set to become the first state to launch a cutting-edge digitalised colonoscopy database, aimed at managing the surging demand for colonoscopies and establishing a comprehensive data registry for future cancer research. The innovative project, known as the ‘Surveillance for Colorectal Cancer Prevention’ (SCOPE), will not only optimise the detection of bowel cancer but also employ the power of artificial intelligence to minimise the risk of this deadly disease across Australia.

With a significant boost of $2.9 million from the Australian Government Medical Research Future Fund National Critical Research Infrastructure Grant, the SCOPE project will be spearheaded by Associate Professor Erin Symonds, Chief Investigator at the Bowel Health Service within Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health, and the Flinders Medical Centre.

By building upon the success of their existing surveillance framework for individuals at heightened risk of bowel cancer, SCOPE aims to develop, validate, and implement a state-of-the-art digital intervention surveillance system. This ground-breaking solution will seamlessly integrate and analyse data from various hospital records using advanced artificial intelligence algorithms. The outcome will be personalised surveillance recommendations based on current guidelines, significantly enhancing the accuracy and effectiveness of colonoscopy procedures.

Colorectal cancer currently stands as the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Australia. Each year, approximately 900,000 colonoscopies are performed across the country, with a staggering one-third of these conducted for surveillance purposes. Alarmingly, it is projected that by 2030, the demand for such procedures will witness a 2.8-fold increase. Consequently, the need for effective preventive interventions has become increasingly urgent to ensure optimal accessibility to regular colonoscopies for individuals with bowel cancer risk factors.

Associate Professor Symonds stressed the significance of the SCOPE project, stating, “Our aim is to develop a digital solution that revolutionises how we manage bowel cancer surveillance. By seamlessly linking and collating data from existing hospital records and leveraging artificial intelligence, we can provide personalised surveillance recommendations that are in line with the latest guidelines.” She further emphasised the project’s objective of ensuring the widespread availability and sustainability of the surveillance program nationwide.

The trial will be conducted across five major hospital networks in South Australia to determine the feasibility, suitability, and cost-effectiveness of the program. This implementation trial is pivotal in validating consumer acceptability, improvement in clinical practice, and cost-effectiveness. Additionally, it will lay the groundwork for the scalability of the surveillance program across the nation. The SCOPE project brings together a team of researchers from Flinders University, SA Health, Cancer Council NSW, the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health, and the University of Adelaide. Moreover, the project has garnered the endorsement of national and international cancer prevention agencies, further underscoring its significance.

The SCOPE project builds upon the remarkable success of the Southern Co-operative Program for the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer (SCOOP program), established in 1999 at Flinders Medical Centre. This earlier initiative focused on providing clinical care that aligned with the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for bowel cancer prevention, ensuring that individuals at an elevated risk for bowel cancer received the attention they needed.

As South Australia gears up to embark on this endeavour, hopes are high that the digitalised colonoscopy database trial will mark a significant step forward in the fight against bowel cancer, potentially revolutionising the way this deadly disease is detected, prevented, and treated across the nation.

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