Joining forces for early lung cancer detection


(From left) Beacon Hospital sales and business development director Jennie Leong Sei Yuen, Subang Jaya Medical Centre acting chief operating officer Rachel Woo, Dr Anand, Dr Sanjeev, Sunway Medical Centre international business development assistant director Faith Tang and Qualitas Health executive chairman Datuk Dr Noorul Ameen at the launch of the free screening programme in Kuala Lumpur.

LUNG Cancer Network Malaysia (LCNM), AstraZeneca and Qualitas Medical Group are partnering with Beacon Hospital, Subang Jaya Medical Centre and Sunway Medical Centre to provide free lung cancer screening to Malaysians.

The partnership will provide public access to artificial intelligence (AI) screening technology (Qure.ai) at primary care clinics and a further low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan at the three hospitals.

The free screening programme was kicked off in Kuala Lumpur by LCNM cardiothoracic surgeon and president Dr Anand Sachithanandan with AstraZeneca Malaysia country president Dr Sanjeev Panchal.

According to medical experts, lung cancer is the second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Malaysian men, as the majority of cases are detected late.

Thus this screening programme is especially beneficial to those in the high-risk category, such as current or former heavy smokers.

Dr Anand said poor prognosis among lung cancer patients was largely because most of them were often at the advanced stage, with no warning signs or symptoms in the early stages.

With a multi-disciplinary and multi-modality therapy approach, he said lung cancer detected at an early stage would carry a better prognosis as it was amenable to curative treatment and more cost-effective to treat.

“Family history and air pollution are emerging significant risk factors for the rising trend of lung cancer in non-smokers.

“This collaboration utilising AI technology for cancer screening thus will help address the unmet need of lung cancer detection in non-smokers.”

He said the AI X-ray interpretation tool, which utilised deep learning algorithms to detect abnormalities in chest radiographs, improved sensitivity for the detection of lung nodules – often the first sign of lung cancer.

Suspected cases will then be further investigated with a non-contrast LDCT scan.

“AI chest X-rays will enhance diagnostic accuracy and expedite referral of suspected cases to a lung specialist,” said Dr Anand.

“Innovative medical advancements such as this deep-learning AI algorithm machine is a huge step forward and potential game-changer for the medical industry.

“We hope to create an impactful stage shift and detect more early lung cancer in the community,” he added.

On the partnership, Dr Sanjeev said, “Through this collaboration, we hope to broaden patients’ access to early lung cancer diagnosis to reduce the mortality rate in Malaysia.

“The integration of innovative technologies such as AI for lung cancer screening starting at the primary care level shows how early screening can improve the timely referral of high-risk individuals to tertiary hospitals for further diagnosis using LDCT imaging and ultimately save lives.”

“AstraZeneca’s ambition is to create a robust health ecosystem that promotes early diagnosis to reduce the disease burden and improve accessibility to screening and treatments,” Dr Sanjeev added.

For more information on the screening programme, visit www.lungcancer.net.my/free-ldct-lung-screening-programme-2/

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