[Originally posted on Medium]
We started Ezra with one mission: help everyone in the world detect cancer early. In 2018, 18.1¹ million people worldwide were diagnosed with cancer². Of that number, almost 50% were detected late, and only 2 out of 10 of those individuals are likely to survive longer than 5 years³.
The numbers tell a compelling story: early detection could save more than 7 million lives each year.
A promising start
In January of this year, Ezra launched our first MRI-based cancer screening program, for prostate cancer. We chose prostate cancer because it is the highest incidence cancer in men (1 in 9 men will get prostate cancer during their life), and because the current standard of care (PSA blood tests) is highly inaccurate and often results in unnecessary prostate biopsies. In the U.S. alone, 1 million prostate biopsies are done every year, and the majority of them could be avoided. A study published in The Lancet⁴ in February 2017 showed that a prostate MRI can detect 18% more clinically significant cancers, while decreasing the number of unnecessary biopsies performed by 27%.
Since launching our MRI-based prostate cancer screening, almost 1,000 individuals have signed up, hundreds of men have been scanned, and Ezra has successfully helped our members find prostate cancer early and avoid unnecessary biopsies.
Move fast and try not to break things
From the beginning, our goal at Ezra has been to offer a way to screen for cancer everywhere in the body that is fast, accurate, and affordable. For the past year, my team and I have spent countless hours testing MRI sequences in order to build our proprietary full-body MRI scanning protocol.
Today, having a full-body MRI scan in a typical clinical setting takes 2 to 3 hours. Together with an incredible team of physicians, radiologists and MRI specialists, we have reduced the scanning time for the Ezra full-body protocol to approximately 60 minutes for men and 75 minutes for women. In just about an hour, we cover up to 13 cancers in women and 11 in men (full list in Table 1 below). It is the most advanced scan of its kind, and it is now available at our Manhattan facilities.
The imaging modality of the future
For those who don’t know much about MRI, the acronym stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and the modality has been around for 30 years. An MRI scanner uses the magnetization properties of the protons in the water in our cells to create internal images of the body. In essence, MRI uses magnets to take photos of your organs.
That said, while an MRI scan is non-invasive, accurate, and painless, it’s also very expensive. Unlike other imaging modalities such as X-rays or CTs, MRI scans take a longer time — an average prostate scan, for example, takes about 30 minutes. They also require significant training to accurately analyze — an expert radiologist spends, on average, 15 to 20 minutes per scan to analyze a prostate MRI versus 1.5 to 2 mins for an X-ray.
That’s why, at Ezra, we’re building Artificial Intelligence to decrease analysis time while increasing radiologist accuracy. By building organ-specific AIs, such as our Prostate AI, we help radiologists become more accurate and more efficient when analyzing scans. Our prostate AI, currently undergoing the FDA clearance process, helps radiologists automate the functions of their job that are most arduous — measuring the volume of the prostate, the size of lesions, and segmenting lesions for Magnetic Resonance-Ultrasound guided biopsy preparation.
A plan for everyone
Making MRI cancer screening available to everyone means making it as affordable as possible. Right now, our full-body scan is $1,950, the torso scan is $1,350, and a pelvic or abdominal scan is only $675. We also offer affordable installment pricing options, where members can pay for their scans in 12 monthly installments.
As we build our collection of AIs to optimize image acquisition and analysis, our goal is to bring down our prices as quickly as possible in order to make MRI cancer screening available to everyone.
Backed by world renowned medical experts
Ezra is headquartered in New York City, the epicenter of oncology innovation. Over the past few months, we have been fortunate to add a number of world-class medical experts to the Ezra Medical Advisory Board: Columbia University Medical Center doctors Azra Raza, Siddhartha Mukherjee, and Joseph Alukal, as well as Dr. Oguz Akin from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Radnet’s Dr. Lawrence N. Tanenbaum, Dr. John Melnick, and Dr. Charles Fiske.
Join our mission
Our mission at Ezra is to detect cancer early for everyone in the world. We plan to do so by offering fast, accurate, pain-free MRI-based cancer screening; provide access to expert radiologists, assisted by the Ezra AI (once we obtain FDA clearance); and deliver compassionate, ongoing support from our team of Ezra Physicians and Ezra Guides. Our goal is to remove the stress, anxiety, and human error from the cancer screening process, and give people a better way to take proactive care of their health, year after year.
To learn more about our full-body cancer screening program or sign up, visit ezra.com. If you’d like to join us on our mission and help build cancer screening solutions that are fast, accurate, and affordable, visit our Careers page and join us at our offices in New York City or Toronto.
 https://seer.cancer.gov/ – 46.8% of cancers are detected in stages with disease spreading outside of the original tumor.
 https://seer.cancer.gov/ — calculated based on 5-year survival rates for individuals with distant metastatic disease.