Gaming to fight cancer
istock_computer-gamer.jpg
Around 90 Australians die from colon cancer
each week, a condition that colonoscopies
can pick up early.
Image: iStockphoto

CSIRO is using the latest in computer gaming technology to help reduce the incidence of one of the most common cancers in Australia – bowel cancer.

According to CSIRO Preventative Health Flagship scientist, Dr Trevor Lockett, on average 90 Australians die from colon cancer each week.

"As such, early diagnosis has become a national health priority," Dr Lockett said.

He said timely and effective colonoscopy follow-up for National Bowel Cancer Screening Program subjects who test positive for blood in the stool is critical to helping this national initiative save lives.

"Colonoscopy is a difficult procedure to master, and gastroenterologists require hundreds of supervised procedures to reach an expert level.

"Better trained surgeons will reduce patient risk, improve detection rates and make screening more efficient," Dr Lockett said.

"CSIRO's solution – a colonoscopy simulator – enables trainee surgeons to interact with accurate computer-based simulations of the human colon."CSIRO's solution – a colonoscopy simulator – enables trainee surgeons to interact with accurate computer-based simulations of the human colon using a modified clinical colonoscope and realistic haptic (force) feedback.

CSIRO Project Leader, Josh Passenger, says the simulator provides photo-realistic rendering using gaming technology (OpenGL) and high-fidelity physics simulations using the processing power of the latest NVIDIA graphics cards.

"In a similar way that a software development company produces a computer game, we have generated realistic environments that enable trainees to search for polyps and abnormalities inside virtual patients," Mr Passenger said.

"We are currently developing a system that can produce realistic, randomised colons, so that surgeons can be prepared for a wide variety of colonic anatomies."

The device was developed in collaboration with Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland and was licensed this week to Swedish company, Surgical Science AB, which develops medical training tools using 'virtual' technologies.

The simulator has been developed by the Preventative Health Flagship in conjunction with the Australian e-Health Research Centre – a joint venture between CSIRO and the Queensland Government.


Editor's Note: Original news release can be found here.