In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) calls for global action towards the elimination of cervical cancer, one of the most common cancers among women yet preventable and treatable. One main strategy to achieve this is screening. However, this requires infrastructure and extensively experienced clinicians, which are limited resources in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The part made up 90% of the disease.
EDAN started the journey in the industry with obstetric products. In 2011, at the moment EDAN already made the achievements in Obstetrics, the team continued to dig into women’s health care needs. Top issues like cervical cancer have been discussed on the table. Colposcope came into the blueprint.
Challenges of Colposcopy for Cervical Cancer Screening in LMICs
Visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) is recommended by WHO for cervical screening in low-income countries (LICs). It is cheap, non-invasive, and can be executed in low-tech health facilities with instant results. The application is routinely used in the colposcopic examination. But, VIA is subjective, with often considerable variability between providers even in settings where quality measures have been introduced. It’s highly dependent on the experience of operators and colposcopists. Thus, the application also faces certain challenges.
Shortly after the first colposcope product was launched, EDAN’s product team noticed the prevailing of false negative and false at the primary care level.
R-way®: Objective Quality Control to the Subjective Colposcopy Screening Procedure
To tackle the problems existing for years, EDAN decided to listen to the voice of end-users. The team met experts, who’ve been actually experienced the application scenario in their daily lives, to learn how they could design, optimize, and finalized the software system, R-way®.
R-way® is an evaluation program that assists in auto diagnosis results according to the preset standardized colposcopic screening procedure to quickly identify CIN2+ cervical diseases.
The system objectifies the diagnosis with a series of preset questions. Users can simply follow the instructions on the screen and answer the questions which mostly have clear answers, and the system will give a primary diagnosis with treatment suggestions. Research has been conducted focusing on the system and gaining recognition by professionals.
Making Standardized Colposcopic Screening Procedure Universal
To go one step further, EDAN initiated a series of campaigns to raise awareness on cervical cancer screening, and the importance of quality control in the colposcopic screening procedure. EDAN further collaborated with Professor Zhao running the EDAN Cup, a contest regarding diagnostic skills with colposcopy among colposcopists.
“The ultimate goal of this event is to let every colposcopist can perform the procedure in a standardized way with the strict quality control process,” Zhao said. “We see the contestants as influencers. With the efforts from us all, I believe there is one day that we could achieve this goal.”
On the other hand, based on the clinical needs and inspired by the industrial insights, EDAN tapping into the AI field tries to push digital colposcopy to another level. In 2019, Edan has reached a strategic partnership with Tencent combining Edan’s digital colposcope with Tencent’s AI-assisted auxiliary diagnostic system. The cooperation mainly focuses on developing medical solutions to enhance the screening and early detection of cervical cancer.
Professor Qiao is a witness on site. “We believe that a practical and accurate AI-guided digital colposcopy has the potential to strengthen the diagnostic ability in guiding cervical biopsy, thereby improving cervical cancer screening performance in LMICs and accelerating the process of global cervical cancer elimination eventually.”
Equipped with the HD camera to open up the vision for colposcopists, assisting with the R-way® system and its easy-to-follow question guide, the colposcopists in LMICs are expected to have a better performance on cervical cancer screening through VIA. “The unbalancing in medical resources regarding cervical cancer screening needs to be addressed. And we keep trying our best to give out a better solution to the world.” Zhang said.
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