by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by TMR
BIOPHARMACEUTICAL company AstraZeneca plc has partnered the Lung Cancer Network Malaysia (LCNM) and Qure.ai to provide artificial intelligence (AI) X-ray solutions at primary care clinics for early detection of lung cancer.
AstraZeneca Malaysia country president Dr Sanjeev Panchal said the collaboration will see each partner play an essential role in the screening, diagnosis, referral and treatment of potential lung cancer patients.
“The end goal of this multi-stakeholder partnership is to improve referral and diagnostic pathways and shift the detection of lung cancer to an earlier stage, which will ultimately improve outcomes,” he said in a virtual signing ceremony of the partnership yesterday.
Dr Sanjeev added that with the availability of this AI X-ray technology, physicians can identify patients at the onset of the disease, giving them a better chance to provide a curative treatment.
“The studies are clear; if we can diagnose patients at an early stage (Stage 1), we can double their five-year survival rate. This is our end-goal for lung cancer management in Malaysia, and with the combined expertise and collaboration of our partners, we are confident that it is something we can achieve,” he said.
Dr Sanjeev also noted that innovations such as the AI X-ray analysis tools are critical for boosting the capabilities of the local healthcare system.
Under the collaboration, AstraZeneca has undertaken the role of providing and funding the installation of Qure.ai’s AI software in 10 primary care clinics under the Qualitas Medical Group across Malaysia.
These clinics have been carefully selected by LCNM as the first point of contact for potential lung cancer patients.
Patients who opt to visit any of the selected clinics will be evaluated and recommended for analysis at the discretion of the in-house primary care physicians.
Once identified, they will be screened using a traditional chest X-ray.
The X-ray will then be evaluated and interpreted using Qure.ai’s AI software, which will provide a comprehensive report within 30 seconds to support primary care physicians in their diagnosis, while reducing the possibility of a missed or delayed diagnosis.
Subsequently, high-risk, or suspected lung cancer patients will be referred to lung specialists at selected tertiary hospitals including Hospital Serdang, Beacon Hospital, Prince Court Medical Centre, Subang Jaya Medical Centre and Sunway Medical Centre for more accurate diagnostic testing and further intervention.
To date, the AI X-ray for lung cancer diagnostics programme has screened over 200 patients and aims to achieve 25,000 total patients screened through the programme.
According to the World Health Organisation and the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, a staggering 90% of lung cancer cases in Malaysia are diagnosed at Stage 3 (locally advanced disease) or Stage 4 (metastatic spread).
This firms its position as the second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in the country.