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New AI Tool Takes the Fight to Colorectal Cancer

Cancer Care
Author name: Lee Health


colorectal cancer graphic

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, an ideal time to announce that new technology at Lee Health is helping lower the risk of colorectal cancer through early detection.

“Early detection is the key advantage in detecting and beating colon cancer,” says Dr. Mahboob Alikhan, a board-certified gastroenterologist with Lee Health Gastroenterology. “Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. That’s why getting screened regularly for colorectal cancer is so important.”

Earlier this month, Lee Health’s gastroenterology department was the health system’s first specialty to debut Medtronic’s GI Genius, an intelligent endoscopy module that helps doctors detect potentially pre-cancerous lesions (polyps). 

“Artificial intelligence-assisted technology like the GI Genius can help detect colorectal cancer early when treatments are most effective,” Dr. Alikhan says.

The GI Genius, the first FDA-cleared artificial intelligence-assisted colonoscopy, is Lee Health’s latest addition to its growing stable of artificial intelligence (AI) medical technology that’s improving health outcomes and patient experiences. 

READ: AI-assisted heart scans can save lives

Gi Genius technology 

Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer diagnosed in the United States, with more than 150,000 new cases every year. 

Screenings can prevent colon cancer because precancerous polyps found during a procedure can be removed at the same time. A colonoscopy can detect colon cancer at an early stage where it may be curable, Dr. Alikhan says. 

The GI Genius module uses advanced visualization and AI software to highlight polyps in real-time. What’s more, Dr. Alikhan says, the device is a game-changer because it can help gastroenterologists detect potentially precancerous lesions that the human eye can’t see.

“The software scans the tissue lining of the colon as the endoscope moves through it,” Dr. Alikhan explains. “If its algorithm detects tissue, such as a polyp, that it considers suspicious, it puts a digital green box around it on the screen.”

The gastroenterologist will decide if it’s a polyp and whether to remove it during the colonoscopy. If the polyp is removed, the doctor sends it to the laboratory for biopsy analysis.

The GI Genius technology significantly decreased the miss rate of adenomas and polyps by 45.8%, according to a 2022 study.

The GI Genius is particularly effective for spotting tiny polyps before they can grow into potentially cancerous ones. For each 1 percent increase in detecting these adenomas, the risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer in the next five years drops by 3 percent.

“The technology helps GI doctors do a better job of spotting polyps that otherwise may have been missed,” Dr. Alikhan says. “It helps us do our jobs better, and in the process, improves patient care and outcomes. In other words, it’s a tool that helps us prevent colon cancer as much as we can.”

Detection and screenings

In Florida and the U.S., colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of death when men and women are combined. In 2019, 10,707 new cases (36 per 100,000 people) were reported to the Florida Cancer Data Registry for colon and rectal cancer, according to the Florida Department of Health (2019 is the latest year for which this data is available).

If you’re 45 to 75 years old, get screened for colorectal cancer regularly.  If you’re younger than 45 and think you may be at high risk of getting colorectal cancer, or if you’re older than 75, talk to your doctor about screening.

You can learn more about the different types of colorectal cancer screening tests here. Talk with your doctor about the test that’s right for you.

Insurance and Medicare Coverage

Colorectal cancer screening tests may be covered by your health insurance policy without a deductible or co-pay. For more information about Medicare coverage, visit or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users should call 1 (877) 486-2048. Check with your insurance plan to determine what benefits are covered for colorectal cancer screening.

For appointments with a Lee Health Gastroenterologist, visit our Gastroenterology page or call 239-343-6202.

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