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Qatar’s national cancer screening programme to adopt AI to enhance early detection

The technology enhances the screening process, making it more efficient and accurate, improving patient outcomes and potentially saving lives.

Healthcare authorities in Qatar have laid out plans to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and teleradiology into Screen for Life, the national cancer screening programme, officials revealed.

In a recent interview with The Peninsula, Dr. Sheikha Abu Sheikha, the Director of Early Detection Programs at the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), outlined plans to evolve the breast and bowel cancer screening programme as part of a push for development.

She said the current focus is on strengthening the programme, established in 2016, by introducing teleradiology that would allow for the expertise of radiologists from outside the country to interpret the images.

“We are also adding artificial intelligence to prioritise the images of breast and bowel cancer screening participants; it will help us to know the suspected images to be read first. At the same time, we are focusing on training our manpower to implement the best practices according to our guidelines,” she added. 

The healthcare official emphasised on efforts to expand the Screen for Life programme to include detection of more types of cancers, building on the success of existing early cancer screening initiatives in the country.

How does it help?

Artificial intelligence has been employed in cancer screenings worldwide in recent years, revolutionising the field of early detection. By leveraging AI algorithms, medical professionals can prioritise and analyse medical images, such as those obtained from breast and bowel cancer screenings.

This advanced technology assists in identifying potential cases that require immediate attention, allowing healthcare providers to expedite diagnosis and intervention.

With the integration of AI, the screening process becomes more efficient and accurate, ultimately improving patient outcomes and potentially saving lives.


According to Qatar’s National Cancer Registry, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer across all nationalities, constituting 16.58% of all cancer cases. Colorectal cancer ranks second at 9.44%, while thyroid cancer holds third position, accounting for 6.33% of all cancer cases.

Among females of all nationalities, breast cancer is the most common in Qatar, comprising 39.15% of all female cancer cases, followed by thyroid cancer.

In males, colorectal cancer has the highest incidence, representing 10.93% of all male cancer cases, followed by prostate cancer at 9.52%.

However, Dr Sheikha said awareness and screening initiatives have proven to be successful.

“Screen for Life has developed a good reputation among the public. We have screened about 50% of the eligible population. It’s promising to see that people are aware of the benefits, accepting and coming to do the screening,” said Dr. Sheikha. 

Breast cancer screening initiatives target women aged 45-69, encouraging them to undergo regular screening at one of the health centres. Similarly, bowel cancer screening programmes encourage men and women aged 50-74 to participate in an annual Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT).

 “We are doing feasibility studies to include other types of cancers such as lung cancer, cervical cancer, and thyroid cancers to the screening programme,” she added.