NHS hospitals in England are trialling a new study to reduce time for prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment using AI to analyse biopsies.
The technology, which has been developed by health tech company Ibex Medical Analytics and is the largest multi-site deployment of AI in the UK, is designed to help reduce errors and speed up diagnosis.
Clinicians will compare the results of the AI analysis to current diagnosis methods, where biopsies take time due to being meticulously reviewed by a pathologist.
Prostate cancer is the most common among men in the UK, with nearly 100,000 men undergoing a prostate biopsy every year – a number expected to double in the next ten years.
More than 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in England every year, and speeding up discovery and treatment is important to help save lives.
Commenting on the new trial, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said: “Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform our health and care system and studies like this are vital in understanding the impact AI can make.
“Cancer diagnosis and treatment has remained a top priority throughout the pandemic and I am committed to busting the backlog in cancer care.
“The earlier cancer is detected the quicker it is treated leading to better outcomes for patients, so this ground-breaking work has the potential to benefit thousands of people.”
The study has been funded as part of the £140-million NHSX AI in Health and Care awards, and will enable leading researchers to “evaluate the effectiveness” of the AI solution Galen Prostate in “detecting and grading cancer in prostate biopsies” using samples from 600 men over 14 months.
Funding will be used for deploying and evaluating the AI technology, with the potential for it to be adopted more widely across the health service, cutting diagnosis times and freeing up valuable clinician time.
Matthew Gould, NHSX CEO, said: “We are currently caught between having too few pathologists and rising demand for biopsies.
“This technology could help, and give thousands of men with prostate cancer faster, more accurate diagnoses.
“It is a prime example of how AI can help clinicians improve care for patients as we recover from the pandemic.”
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Researchers in Scotland have also been working to speed up illness diagnosis using AI, with announcement last week of new tech to provide efficient treatment for heart attack sufferers.
Smaller blood clots that cannot be picked up by current technology can now be identified thanks to the new imaging system.
A major breakthrough by a Glasgow-based tech company could also rapidly enhance the early detection of brain cancer.
Research from Dxcover indicated that it’s liquid biopsy technology is effective even during the early stages of cancer growth, when tumours are far smaller.
However, other research this week cautioned the use of AI in cancer diagnosis, with IT experts stating that the use of AI in breast cancer screening could lead to false diagnoses.
Scientists are currently analysing how AI could be integrated into the NHS’ systems, although IT experts say there is not enough evidence to justify leveraging the technology yet.