Could Artificial Intelligence Aid in the Early Detection of Colon Cancer?

Two articles published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal discuss the use of artificial intelligence with colonoscopy procedures.

Two articles published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal discuss the use of artificial intelligence with colonoscopy procedures.

Dr. Aasma Shaukat, a gastroenterologist and director of outcomes research for the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at NYU Langone Health in New York who was not involved in the studies, said that “Overall, the two studies are different in design but come to contradictory conclusions regarding the use of CADeTrusted Source (computer-aided detection) in colonoscopy.”

Detecting colorectal cancer with artificial intelligence

The first study did not find improved detection of premalignant or malignant lesions of colorectal cancer.

For this study, more than 3,000 people with a positive fecal immunochemical test (FIT) were randomly assigned to receive colonoscopies with or without (computer assistance) for the detection of advanced colorectal neoplasia, adenomas, serrated polyps, and non-polyploid and right-sided lesions.

Although the scientists observed a small effect, they did not find significant differences between the two groups in the detection rate of advanced colorectal neoplasias or in the average number of advanced colorectal neoplasias that were detected per colonoscopy. They said the findings suggest additional research and more defined detection parameters in CADe it can be integrated into routine care.

Limitations of Using Computer-aided detection (CADe) in Colonoscopy

Computer-assisted colonoscopy driven by artificial intelligence (AI) may increase detection of small polyps, but not colorectal neoplasias or advanced adenomas. In one study, researchers concluded that artificial intelligence did not improve detection of lesions associated with colorectal cancer. The results of these studies seem to contradict one another with one showing no diagnostic improvements and the other finding a reduction in the missed rate of colonoscopies.

Artificial intelligence in Medical Sciences

According to a 2020 review on the topic, artificial intelligence (AI) is used extensively in medical sciences. Applications that diagnose diseases, research end-to-end drug discovery and development, improve communication between physician and patient, transcribe medical documents, and remotely treat patients often use AI.

Dr. James Lee, a gastroenterologist with Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, CA who was not involved in the studies said that “Artificial Intelligence is rapidly integrating into every aspect of our daily lives” and that “The role of AI in colonoscopy detection of colon polyps will be continually evaluated and advanced in coming years. Currently, the role of AI during the colonoscopy is to detect polyps on the screen by placing a green box (GI-Genius, Medtronic), attracting the endoscopist’s attention in real-time”.

There are some risks to colonoscopies, no matter which kind. These include having the doctor take extra tissue around the polyp and an increased risk of bleeding. Dr. Ashkan Farhadi, a gastroenterologist at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in California who was not involved in the studies told Medical News Today that costs can increase using this type of technology.

Bottom Line

The researchers concluded that AI has the potential to enhance colonoscopy, but more studies are needed to confirm its safety and efficacy.

Photo of author

Verryne Eidsvold

Verryne comes from a very diverse background. She tries not to be judgmental and sees herself as an optimist.