NHS tests AI software to diagnose breast cancer

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has announced that it will start testing software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to help doctors detect and diagnose breast cancer, according to a Financial Times (FT) report.

Kheiron Medical, the company that developed the technology, is launching a trial on historic scans this month at a National Health Trust in Leeds.

The firm is also using their new technology to test tens of thousands of historic scans from the East Midlands to determine whether or not it is capable of detecting signs of breast cancer.

Kheiron’s algorithm is currently being used on half a million historic scans in Hungarian hospitals.

Other firms that are developing similar technology include Deepmind, the Google-owned company, which recently began a trial with the NHS last year, and ScreenPoint Medical.

According to a peer review by Dr Hugh Harvey, Clinical Director at Kheiron Medical, it “can beat the average performance of a human radiologist,” when tested against 3,500 scans.

“The first phase is that we are doing large-scale analysis on historic data and when we’re happy that the algorithm is performing optimally we’ll begin to test it on live patients,” Harvey told the FT.


Radiologist shortage 

The new clinical invention comes during a time when the NHS continues to suffer from the shortage of radiologists in the UK.

According to the report, the UK has spent a total of £116m on outsourcing scans and related overtime in 2016-17, a £30m ($38.5m) increase from the year before.

Healthcare professionals claim that more hospitals will use AI technology in the forthcoming years.

According to Nisha Sharma, director of breast screening services at Leeds Teaching Hospital: “There are several companies that are developing algorithms to read mammograms – it’s something that we will see happen in the next five years.”


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