Oral cancer is a visible cancer that is amenable to early detection. Unfortunately, there are more than 40 types of growths or lesions that can be found in the mouth, and it isn’t always possible to access a medical expert to tell the difference between a lesion that is a cancer and one that is non-cancerous.
We led the largest study in Southeast Asians to develop a database of images of different types of oral lesions and have used this to develop an AI-enabled mobile phone app that can accurately distinguish a lesion that is cancer from one that is non-cancerous. Together with our partners, we aim to enable individuals, particularly those in remote locations where access to doctors is more limited, to detect oral cancer at an early stage so that it can be cured.
Today, there have been major advances in cancer treatment because of our understanding on how cancers happen (and which treatments can target these genetic changes to kill cancer cells). Such an understanding of genomics has played an important part in creating more effective therapies for breast, lung and many other cancers, but unfortunately, there is little done in genomics of Asian cancers including oral and nasopharyngeal cancer.