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Burnaby Hospital to use artificial intelligence to help detect colon cancer

Fraser Health is spending $1.2 million to bring the technology to 12 hospitals, including Burnaby Hospital
Colonoscopy procedures at hospitals like Burnaby Hospital will be aided by artificial intelligence called GI Genius to better detect pre-cancerous polyps in the intestinal tract.

Artificial intelligence isn’t just for creating fake, meme-worthy photos or helping you decide what movie to attend.

It can also be used to help detect colon cancer.

Burnaby Hospital is one of 12 hospitals in the Fraser Health region which is being equipped with GI Genius, a computer-aided system that helps doctors improve the accuracy of colonoscopies and increase the likelihood of detecting and removing precancerous lesions.

The GI Genius looks like a black box, but its artificial intelligence provides real-time information to doctors or endoscopists to better identify pre-cancerous polyps in the intestinal tract.

"The AI system gives us a second set of eyes in the room," said Dr. Scott Cowie, a surgeon at Langley Memorial Hospital, said in a news release.

"By detecting and treating polyps early, we’re reducing the risk of missed findings and improving the quality of life for people in our region."

Cowie said the system never gets tired and can objectively assess everything it sees that human eyes might miss.

The survival rate for colon cancer when it’s detected at its earliest stage is more than 90 per cent.

Fraser Health’s director of research and evaluation services, Kate Keetch, said the technology is an example of the potential for artificial intelligence to provide patient’s with better care.

"There is a tremendous amount of work underway globally and within our own organization to enhance health care through research studies that explore the utility of artificial intelligence," she said.

In addition to Burnaby Hospital, the GI Genius system is being installed at:

  • Abbotsford Regional Hospital
  • Chilliwack General Hospital
  • Delta Hospital
  • Eagle Ridge Hospital
  • Langley Memorial Hospital
  • Peace Arch Hospital
  • Royal Columbian Hospital
  • Ridge Meadows Hospital
  • Surrey Memorial Hospital
  • Mission Memorial Hospital
  • Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgical Centre

According to Fraser Health, more than 13,000 patients were referred to its colon cancer screening program last year.