The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry has launched a free artificial intelligence (AI)-powered preliminary lung cancer screening service, targeting serving 1 million people this year.
The screening service was initiated under the “AI for Better Life” project, a collaboration between AstraZeneca (Thailand), Banphaeo General Hospital, The Mall Group and the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa).
The screening system powered by AI was developed by AstraZeneca.
The free screening is a New Year’s gift for Thais, said DES Minister Prasert Jantararuangtong.
The hospital team is conducting the lung cancer screening, with the AI processing taking just three minutes.
Patients can receive screening results quickly, and if abnormalities are detected they can promptly be connected to hospital care. Physicians will consider the AI analysis in addition to their own diagnoses, according to the project.
As part of the launch, individuals can receive an AI-powered preliminary lung cancer screening from Jan 26-28, between 10am and 5pm at floor G, M Lifestyle Zone, The Mall Life Store Bang Kapi.
The ministry envisions a more extensive collaboration with other hospitals, aiming to extend the service to 1 million individuals this year.
The scheme will be expanded to other provinces, with hospitals seeking more cost-effective methods for health checkups.
“We are focusing on enhancing public awareness of maintaining one’s health through digital technology, offering cost savings and convenience in the early diagnosis of lung cancer for the Thai population,” said Mr Prasert.
He said the government acknowledges the vast potential of AI tech to elevate the functioning of various operational systems.
The ministry is actively driving the application of digital tech to improve the overall quality of life for the population through the implementation of Depa, especially in the realm of the healthcare system.
Dr Saowanee Kerddonfak, director of Banphaeo General Hospital, said the leading cause of death among Thais remains cancer, with lung cancer being the most prevalent cause of death, ranking in the top five and showing a continuous upward trend.
Lung cancer often does not exhibit symptoms, and patients are typically diagnosed in the late stages, resulting in delayed treatment and less favourable outcomes. The chances of recovery are low, and there is an increased risk of mortality. Therefore, lung cancer screening is crucial.
Last year, through the initiative of a free service, Banphaeo General Hospital conducted lung cancer screenings for over 10,000 individuals, demonstrating that early screening with AI tech facilitates quick diagnosis, timely treatment and improved chances of survival.
Roman Ramos, country president of AstraZeneca (Thailand), said the majority of people are diagnosed with lung cancer at advanced stages because there are minor or no symptoms in the early stages. This causes a delay in treatment, which negatively impacts patient outcomes and ultimately reduces the survival rate.
Therefore, early detection of lung cancer will help patients get treatment earlier, which will improve their health outcomes and may increase the survival rate, he added.
“As innovation and technological advancements progress, the support of early detection of lung cancer through pre-screening will strengthen our healthcare system by building equitable access to lung health checks for Thais,” he said.