Pancreatic cancer is among the more difficult cancers to treat, in part because it usually goes undetected until it is in the later stages.
But the picture is brightening for patients at Northwell Health in upstate New York, where oncologists have recently begun using iNav — an artificial intelligence-enabled diagnostic tool developed in-house — to spot the signs of pancreatic cancer and flag it for treatment much earlier in the process.
The key to the new tool is its ability to analyze high volumes of CT and MRI scan reports — more than 10,000 abdominal scans per week — to find any indication of a mass or lesion on a patient's pancreas. It is able to weed out mentions of "no apparent mass," as well.
iNav enables physicians to expedite diagnoses and treatment of pancreatic cancers that, without the AI technology, would have been found at a much later stage of progression.
While iNav is a significant step forward, it remains just one weapon in the arsenal of Northwell Health’s multidisciplinary approach to treating pancreatic cancer where patients are able to see a surgeon, medical oncologist, gastroenterologist and social worker. By bringing all of these services together, patients are connected to care faster.
Says oncologist Daniel King, MD, the earlier the disease is detected, "the more likely we'll catch it at a time that it can be removed and potentially cured."