Saint Joseph Hospital using new ‘smart’ tool for colorectal cancer screenings

Saint Joseph Hospital using new ‘smart’ tool for colorectal cancer screenings
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 4:41 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The medical world has seen so many advances thanks to technology. Now, artificial intelligence or AI, is helping in a new way when it comes to preventing colorectal cancer.

With more and more younger Kentuckians being diagnosed with colon cancer, a Lexington hospital is now the first in the state to use AI as an extra set of eyes for screening.

Dr. Kathleen Martin has screened hundreds of patients in her years as a gastrointestinal doctor with CHI Saint Joseph.

“Colon cancer is best prevented by picking it up early,” said Dr. Kathleen Martin.

While screening numbers have improved, Dr. Martin knows there are still challenges for some when it comes to getting a colonoscopy.

“One thing is the bowel prep. People are afraid of the bowel prep. I always want people to know that we don’t do that large gallon in most cases anymore,” said Dr. Martin.

The routine and relatively painless procedure has now become even more high-tech. Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington is the first in the state to use the GI Genius technology from Medtronic. It is an AI-assisted smart tool that allows doctors to detect even more colorectal polyps of all shapes and sizes.

“What we have now is, in addition to our high-definition scopes that give us better visualization, we have a computer looking at the image with us in real-time,” said Dr. Martin.

Dr. Martin says the GI Genius is like having another set of eyes scanning for what could be missed.

“If there is a polyp that the computer sees, it actually puts a little green box around it and gives us a little warning, so it draws our attention to that area,” said Dr. Martin.

Studies of the new computer-aided polyp detection system showed a 50% reduction in missed polyps, and that can be lifesaving.

“What we really want to find are these flay polyps that are hard to see because we know those are dangerous ones that tend to grow into cancer without anybody seeing them,” said Dr. Martin.

With this new smart tool, it is another link to hope in not only finding cancer but helping to prevent it at the same time.

“It’s a game changer for us to have the very best technology to help us see things we might miss otherwise,” said Dr. Martin.

The recommended screening age for colorectal cancer is 45. People with a family history of polyps or colorectal cancer should talk with their doctor about screening earlier.