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Why the polyps?
Bowel cancer is a big problem, causing more than 16,000 deaths per year in the UK. Many bowel cancers develop from polyps – small growths in the lining of the intestines that become cancerous over time as their cycle of growth and reproduction becomes increasingly abnormal. Detecting and eliminating polyps is therefore the best strategy we currently have to prevent bowel cancer.
Polyps can be detected in several ways, but the best way is colonoscopy (a camera test for the large intestine), which people often have because they go to their GP with intestinal symptoms (such as blood in poop or a persistent change in the consistency or frequency of their poop), or because they participate in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Program.
Why artificial intelligence?
A lot has been done to improve the ability to detect polyps during a colonoscopy, but almost all of them are aimed at making the intestinal lining more visible on the camera. They had a significant effect on increasing the number of polyps detected, but we believe there is still room for improvement.
It is hoped that artificial intelligence (AI) devices will be the next step in changing the way polyps are detected, improving the ability of the camera (and the person using it) to see polyps on the face. intestinal lining, since other measures were effective in making the intestinal lining visible.
COLO-DETECT will be the UK’s first clinical trial of the first commercially available AI polyp detection device, called GI Genius ™, manufactured by Medtronic. GI Genius ™ is a separate box from the normal colonoscope equipment, which, when attached, receives video images from the camera and analyzes them for the presence of polyps.
COLO-DETECT will also be the first trial that will assess GI Genius ™ in routine practice in a variety of hospital settings, rather than in the hands of expert colonoscopists. We will assess the ability of the GI Genius ™ to detect polyps, compared to a normal colonoscopy, as well as to understand its impact on patients, colonoscopists and the healthcare service.
COLO-DETECT is one of the research studies under the aegis of COLO-SPEED Network – a large collaboration designed to promote, support and lead bowel cancer research in the North East of England, across the UK and internationally.
Artificial intelligence is only just starting to gain traction in the colonoscopy world, and it is vital that the technology is properly evaluated from the start. There are still restrictions in place on endoscopy and research activities due to COVID-19, but polyps and bowel cancer do not stop in a pandemic and so it is vital that the research on non-COVID conditions continues.
COLO-DETECT will recruit its first participant in early March and we plan to recruit just over 2,000 participants over the next 18 months. I will be posting additional blogs throughout the trial and at the end so you can follow our progress and see the results.