Meet Angie, the WhatsApp chatbot for women at risk of hereditary breast cancer


If you think you might be at risk for breast cancer, there is now an artificial intelligence powered WhatsApp chatbot that can help you answer your questions.

Angie the chatbot is part of a National University Cancer Institute of Singapore (NCIS) project that aims to expand access to genetic counseling.

Women suspected of having a genetic predisposition or at high risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC) can use the chatbot to learn more about the syndrome and how genetic testing can help, before they go. attend their first genetic counseling session at the NCIS Cancer Genetics Clinic.

They can also use the chatbot to complete their family medical history for a risk assessment at their convenience.

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Currently, people at risk for HBOC are referred directly to the clinic for genetic counseling to help them understand the pros and cons of genetic testing and to discuss recommended preventive options with an expert.

Prior to this visit, a counselor will make a routine call to collect the patient’s family medical history. This call can sometimes take up to an hour.

“During the initial counseling session, many patients may also feel overwhelmed by the amount of information provided and may not be able to make the decision to undergo genetic testing.

“Multiple consultations may be necessary, which is made more difficult by the limitations due to the COVID-19 situation,” NCIS said in its press release.

Angie the chatbot contributes to “improving this patient experience” by automating the collection of family medical records in the form of “bite-size modules” delivered via WhatsApp.

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Patients can choose to complete these modules at their own pace and when completed the chatbot will send more information about HBOC, cancer genetic testing and the counseling process, supplemented by visual aids such as infographics and videos.

Angie was also trained to answer frequently asked questions on topics such as the causes of HBOC genetic inheritance, screening, risk reduction strategies and the cost of genetic testing.

NCIS said it hoped to expand the chatbot service, which was created in partnership with Singaporean health technology startup AI Bot MD, to other countries in Asia to help more patients at risk of dementia. ‘HBOC to better understand and manage their condition.

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“Genetic testing is increasingly recognized as an important consideration in the management of breast cancer patients and their family members suspected of having HBOC. However, there is still a significant lack of awareness and misconceptions among the public who should be treated with genetic counseling.

“Angie, the NCIS ENGAGE chatbot allows us to reach out to patients early and provide them with targeted education so that they come for their consultation better informed and ready to decide on the next step,” said Dr. Samuel Ow, consultant at department of NCIS. Hematology-Oncology.

For more information on Angie, visit the NCIS website.