Currently, doctors miss one in five cases during regular endoscopy with sometimes serious consequences.  But results from new trials of the AI ​​program show that it can accurately detect pre-cancerous signs during endoscopy in 92 percent of patients.

British scientists invent an artificial eye that shows deadly cancer in the throat

British scientists invent an artificial eye that can catch early esophageal cancer, which affects 9,000 Britons a year and many of whom die within 12 months

  • Doctors use an artificial pair of eyes to check for precancerous cells
  • The flexible tube is inserted where the doctor performs an endoscopy on the patient
  • Doctors miss one in five cases of early-stage esophageal cancer
  • Symptoms include loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, and acid reflux

A pioneering program from the NHS has shown that artificial intelligence can dramatically improve the chances of picking up early warning signs of esophageal cancer.

The computer technology works by analyzing images taken during a procedure known as endoscopy, when a small camera is placed at the end of a flexible tube down the throat – which acts as an “extra pair of eyes” to help doctors determine pre-cancerous conditions. cells in the esophagus.

Currently, doctors miss one in five cases during regular endoscopy – sometimes with serious consequences. But results from new trials of the AI ​​program show that it can accurately detect pre-cancerous signs during endoscopy in 92 percent of patients.

Currently, doctors miss one in five cases during regular endoscopy – sometimes with serious consequences. But results from new trials of the AI ​​program show that it can accurately detect pre-cancerous signs during endoscopy in 92 percent of patients.

About 9,000 Britons are diagnosed with esophageal cancer each year.  Patients with the most common type of

About 9,000 Britons are diagnosed with esophageal cancer each year. Patients with the most common type – adenocarcinoma – live for only a year after diagnosis, making it one of the most deadly forms of the disease.

‘If we catch esophageal cancer early, we can treat it with minimally invasive surgery and patients don’t need surgery or rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy,’ said Professor Rehan Haidari, consultant endoscopy at University College London NHS Hospitals, who is providing the procedure.

About 9,000 Britons are diagnosed with esophageal cancer each year. Patients with the most common type – adenocarcinoma – live for only one year after diagnosis, making it one of the most deadly forms of the disease.

Common symptoms include loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, and acid reflux. In up to 13 percent of patients, the disease is preceded by a condition called Barrett’s esophagus — when the cells lining the esophagus change and transform. Acid reflux is thought to be the main cause – rising stomach acid into the esophagus damages these cells. One in ten patients with GERD develops Barrett’s disease.

In about 1 in 100 cases each year, cellular changes can become precancerous — a condition called dysplasia — and later turn into full-blown cancer.

Pre-cancerous cells can be surgically removed during the endoscopic procedure itself, using a fine wire passed down the throat to scrape off the mutated cells. Studies show that the procedure is so effective that 95 percent of patients are still cancer-free after ten years.

In the case of complete esophageal cancer, treatment involves removing part of the esophagus. During the procedure, incisions are made in the patient’s neck, stomach, or abdomen to remove part or all of the esophagus and replace it with part of the stomach or intestines. But for more than half of these patients, the cancer returns within two to three years.

Advanced disease is treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This may be followed by immunotherapy if other treatments stop working.

However, at this stage, the cancer is usually incurable – and only 15 percent of patients survive for five years or more.

The artificial intelligence program, called CADU, increases the likelihood of esophageal cancer being detected early by highlighting areas of concern in a patient’s throat that are not visible to the naked eye. As the doctor inserts the camera into the patient’s throat, the software analyzes the images the doctor sees in real time and produces on-screen warnings, directing the surgeon to potentially abnormal cells.

This technology has been approved by UK health regulators and has been in use at UCH in London for the past year. Experts believe it will be reviewed for wider use in NHS hospitals over the next year.

Professor Hedry says: “A man in his 60s recently came in with symptoms of Barrett’s esophagus. Looking at the screen during endoscopy, I couldn’t see any signs of pre-cancer. But the AI ​​system picked it up right away and highlighted the area.”

After the cells were removed and sent to the lab, the results came back within a week — and the computer was right. The cells were cancerous.

Hopefully the patient is now no longer at risk of developing cancer, and Professor Heidry says: “Compare this to actual esophageal cancer treatment – patients undergo massive surgery to remove part of the esophagus.

This includes spending weeks in the hospital, and recovery can take up to six months.

With the AI ​​procedure, the risks involved are minimal and patients can go home the next day.

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