By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States and now doctors in California are using artificial intelligence to make colonoscopies more accurate and help save lives.

AI colonoscopies would not replace routine colonoscopies, which most people need to get every 10 years starting at age 45 or 50 depending on whom you ask, but this new technology can help doctors identify polyps that they might otherwise miss. Polyps are growths that can turn into cancer but if removed early can prevent cancer from growing.

The artificial intelligence uses an algorithm, analyzing 98 images a second as it searches for both polyps and even tissue that could become a polyp but may not be visible with a standard colonoscopy for several years. Studies show the technology can identify up to 20 percent more abnormalities than a traditional colonoscopy.

It is not widely available but some doctors hope it will be in the near future.

Dr. Mallika Marshall