Colonoscopic cancer screening

Polyps (green circle) are automatically detected by the “KoloPol” software.
© Fraunhofer IIS

Polyps (green circle) are automatically detected by the “KoloPol” software.

Software to automatically detect colon polyps can assist healthcare professionals.

In Germany, some 26,000 people die of bowel cancer each year. In most cases, polyps in the colon are to blame. These growths do not generally cause discomfort, and are only detected in the course of preventive cancer screening. During a colonoscopy, the colon and rectum are examined using an endoscope. The effectiveness of this procedure is heavily dependent on the experience and attentiveness of the examining physician, with 12 to 24 percent of polyps remaining undetected.

The “KoloPol” project has successfully developed a software to automatically detect polyps in the colon during colonoscopy, thus assisting physicians in their diagnosis. “Suspicious tissue areas are identified on the basis of variations in form, coloring, and texture, and automatically detected,” explains Dr. Thomas Wittenberg, leader of the project and head of the Biomedical Research group, adding that “the software has the potential to raise the detection rate for pedunculated polyps.” As well as improving detection, it could also reduce the time spent on colonoscopies by healthcare professionals. From July to October 2016, the system underwent technical validation at the Technical University of Munich’s Rechts der Isar Hospital. The detection principle was tested on 58 patients, with around 75% of polyps successfully detected by the KoloPol system.

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