AstraZeneca has tied up with Institut Kanser Negara, a centre of excellence for cancer care in Malaysia, to incorporate AI medical imaging into early lung cancer screening at government clinics and hospitals. 


Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in Malaysia, claiming about 19 deaths per 100,000 people. It is said that 8 out of 10 cases are diagnosed at Stage 4, “making early screening crucial to expedite diagnosis and treatment for patients,” according to AstraZeneca Malaysia.

Introducing AI can scale early cancer screening at the population level. It is expected not only to improve people’s chances of survival but also to help reduce the financial burden of cancer on the country’s healthcare system. 


AstraZeneca Malaysia and IKN are collaborating under Projek Saringan Awal Paru-Paru (SAPU), which seeks to promote the adoption of AI imaging in government healthcare facilities. 

The initiative represents the third phase of AstraZeneca’s flagship early lung cancer screening programme, Lung Ambition Alliance (LAA). Launched in 2021, it first equipped private primary care clinics under the Qualitas Group with Qure.ai‘s imaging software to conduct lung cancer screening. The following year, the second phase of the programme involved three private tertiary hospitals where patients were referred for further diagnosis using low dose CT scan. 

Over the past three years, the LAA has screened nearly 19,000 patients and referred over 400 high-risk patients to hospitals for further investigation. 

This year, Projek SAPU will provide AI technology as part of a pilot study at selected government hospitals and clinics. Sandbox sites have also been designated to collate data on the results of the project, which will be used to gain an understanding of Malaysia’s local landscape and disease demographics. 

The project also goes beyond lung cancer screening; it also aims to screen for other lung-related diseases, such as COVID-19, tuberculosis, and lung fibrosis. 


Commenting on their latest partnership, Vinod Narayanan, president of AstraZeneca Malaysia, said: “This is a crucial first step in levelling the field and ensuring the wider population receives access to this AI-driven lung care screening.”

“Early screening can improve the chances of survival, in particular lung cancer, and this consequently can alleviate the high financial cost of cancer on our national healthcare system. Our partnership with AstraZeneca is a right step in the direction of reducing the burden of NCDs in the country through early diagnosis,” IKN director Dr Mohd Anis Haron also said. 


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