SA first to trial a new digital intervention for bowel cancer

South Australia will be the first state to trial a digitalised colonoscopy database led by Flinders University to manage the growing demand for colonoscopies and establish a data registry for future cancer research.

The ‘Surveillance for Colorectal Cancer Prevention’ (SCOPE) project will develop, validate and implement a digital intervention surveillance to optimise the detection of bowel cancer and utilise artificial intelligence to reduce the risk of bowel cancer in Australia.

The project has received $2.9 million from the Australian Government Medical Research Future Fund National Critical Research Infrastructure Grant and will be led by the Chief Investigator Associate Professor Erin Symonds, Bowel Health Service, from the College of Medicine and Public Health and Flinders Medical Centre.

The trial will build on the success of “our proven framework for surveillance of those at increased risk for bowel cancer, and provide a digital solution that links and collates data from existing hospital records, and uses artificial intelligence algorithms to determine the appropriate surveillance recommendations based on current guidelines,” says Associate Professor Symonds.

Colorectal cancer is the second largest cause of cancer-related death in Australia and approximately 900,000 colonoscopies are performed here each year with at least one-third of these for surveillance purposes. It is estimated that by the year 2030, there will be a 2.8-fold increase in the number of procedures needed.

Associate Professor Symonds says that effective preventive interventions are urgently needed to ensure that optimal surveillance through regular colonoscopies is accessible to people with risk factors for bowel cancer.

“This project will be implemented across five different hospital networks in South Australia to determine the feasibility, suitability and cost-effectiveness of the program.

“The implementation trial will provide the critical evidence to validate its consumer acceptability, improvement to clinical practice, and cost-effectiveness. It will also ensure that the surveillance program is sustainable and scalable nationwide,” says Associate Professor Symonds.

The new project also involves other researchers from Flinders University, SA Health, Cancer Council NSW, Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health, and the University of Adelaide, as well as being endorsed by national and international cancer prevention agencies.

This project builds on the success of the Southern Co-operative Program for the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer (‘SCOOP program’), which was established in 1999 at Flinders Medical Centre to ensure that people with an increased risk for bowel cancer were being provided with clinical care to match the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines on bowel cancer prevention.

Text by: Flinders University. 

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