Lung Cancer Network Malaysia (LCNM), AstraZeneca and Qualitas Medical Group have partnered with three leading tertiary private cancer facilities; Subang Jaya Medical Centre, Sunway Medical Centre and Beacon Hospital to provide free lung cancer screening for Malaysians. This partnership will broaden the public’s access to cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) screening technology (Qure.ai) chest radiographs at selected primary care clinics. Individuals with abnormal or suspicious chest x-rays, suggestive of a possible underlying lung tumour will be further investigated with a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan at one of the three partner specialist hospitals. This is the first-of-its-kind cancer screening in Malaysia utilizing AI technology.
The comprehensive free lung cancer screening programme was launched by Dr. Anand Sachithanandan, President of LCNM alongside Dr. Sanjeev Panchal, Country President, AstraZeneca Malaysia based on the shared intention to close the gaps on early lung cancer detection.
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer and leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Malaysian men, where a majority of these cases are detected late, resulting in lung cancer having the worst survival of all major cancer types in this country. In women, only breast cancer is more fatal as a cause of cancer-related mortality. Under this initiative, Malaysians especially those in the high-risk category such as current or former heavy smokers will be able to detect the early presence of cancer through advanced AI imaging.
Detection of early-stage disease is vital as treatment and prognosis is very much stage-dependent. According to Dr. Anand, a cardiothoracic surgeon, the poor prognosis amongst lung cancer patients is largely attributed to the fact that most patients often present with advanced disease as often there are no warning signs or symptoms in the early stages. With a multi-disciplinary and multi-modality therapy approach, lung cancer detected at an early stage carries a very good prognosis as it is amenable to curative treatment and is also 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 is the first-of-its-kind in Malaysia and will also help address the unmet need of lung cancer detection in non-smokers,” said Dr Anand.
“AI chest x-rays utilise deep learning algorithms and will enhance diagnostic accuracy and expedite referral of suspected cases to a relevant lung specialist. It will complement the work of radiologists. With more swift investigation and intervention, better survival rates can be expected. Innovative medical advancements such as this is a huge step forward and a potential game-changer for clinical practice. We hope to create impactful stage shift and detect more early-stage lung cancer in the community,” Dr. Anand further explained.
Commenting on the partnership, Dr. Sanjeev Panchal said, “Through this second collaboration with the Lung Cancer Network Malaysia, Qualitas Medical Group and now with the tertiary hospitals, we hope to broaden patients access to early lung cancer diagnosis to reduce the mortality rates in Malaysia. The integration of innovative technologies such as AI for lung cancer screening starting at the primary care level is evidence of 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.
The free screening which covers the AI-chest x-ray, a LDCT scan and consultation with a lung specialist will be available till the end of the year. Another highlight at the event was the launch of a consensus statement on the potential role of AI-assisted Chest-X-rays in identifying early lung cancer patients in Malaysia. The statement intended for healthcare professionals only, is available on the LCNM website (www.lungcancer.net.my) .
Free Ai X-Ray: FREE LDCT Lung Screening Programme – Lung Cancer Network Malaysia
Consensus Statement: Consensus statement on the potential role of Artificial Intelligence-assisted Chest X-ray in identifying early lung cancer patients in Malaysia – Lungcancer-HCP