Hi-tech screening revolution that speeds up prostate cancer diagnosis

Hi-tech screening revolution that speeds up prostate cancer diagnosis

Computer scanning revolution in war on prostate cancer: Thousands of patients could benefit from hi-tech screening that speeds up diagnosis

  • Six NHS hospitals are trialling the use of AI algorithm to detect prostate cancer
  • It scans images of biopsies and can detect cancer too subtle for the human eye 
  • 100k men in the UK undergo a prostate biopsy each year and 40k are diagnosed

Thousands of men with prostate cancer are set to benefit from revolutionary computer screening which dramatically speeds up diagnosis.

Six major NHS hospitals are trialling the use of an algorithm which scans images of prostate biopsies to accurately detect cancer and determine how aggressive the disease is.

Ministers hope the technology can ultimately be adopted widely across the health service, freeing doctors and speeding up treatment and diagnosis.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the rollout of artificial intelligence (AI) in the NHS was part of his ‘commitment to busting the backlog in cancer care’ after Covid.

Around 100,000 men in the UK undergo a prostate biopsy each year and 40,000 are diagnosed with prostate cancer – leading to around 12,000 deaths.

Biopsies involve using thin needles to take small samples of tissue from the prostate, which currently have to be meticulously reviewed under a microscope in the lab by a pathologist.

Six major NHS hospitals are trialling the use of a new AI algorithm which is 98% effective at detecting prostate cancer and would dramatically speeds up diagnosis (stock image)

But this is a time-consuming process and a shortage of NHS pathologists means men can face lengthy delays before getting a diagnosis and starting treatment.

The new AI algorithm, called Galen Prostate, is 98 per cent effective at detecting prostate cancer according to a study published in The Lancet last year.

Biopsy images are fed into a computer algorithm which can quickly recognise patterns in cells that indicate cancer and can be too subtle for the human eye to spot.

The device, developed by Israeli business Ibex Medical Analytics, was able to spot some cancers which were missed by pathologists and can also grade and assess the size of tumours.

The technology will initially be rolled out at six NHS hospitals including Imperial College Healthcare and University Hospital Southampton.

Some 600 men will have their biopsies analysed using both the new AI and traditional diagnosis methods over the next 14 months. Researchers will compare the results and if successful the computer algorithm will be adopted more widely across the NHS.

It scans images of prostate biopsies and can detect cancer too subtle for the human eye and can also grade and assess the size of tumours. (file image of MRI showing prostate cancer)

Bosses have committed to an ‘artificial intelligence revolution’ to improve patient care, and this trial represents the largest deployment of AI on the NHS.

It received funding as part of the £140million AI in Health and Care awards, run in partnership with NHSX – the technology arm of the health service.

Mr Javid said: ‘Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform our health and care system … 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.’

Matthew Gould, CEO of NHSX, 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.’

The Daily Mail has spent 20 years campaigning to raise awareness of prostate cancer and improve treatment. 

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