NHS trials AI to diagnose breast cancer

Kheiron Medical has begun a trial on historic scans at a Leeds-based NHS trust to establish whether its AI algorithm can be used to address the UK's shortage of radiologists


The UK's National Health Service (NHS) has announced that it is trialing AI algorithms to diagnose breast cancer in an effort to address the shortage of radiologists.

The trial of the technology, which has been developed by Kheiron Medical, was launched this month on historic scans at an NHS trust in Leeds. It is also being tested against tens of thousands of historic scans from the East Midlands to establish whether it can identify signs of breast cancer.

The algorithm has been trained on half a million scans from Hungarian hospitals and, according to a peer review by clinical director Hugh Harvey, can "beat the average performance of a human radiologist" when tested against 3,500 scans.

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"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 said.

The UK is facing a severe shortage of radiologists, as, according to the Royal College of Radiologists, NHS hospitals spent around £116m ($149m) outsourcing scans and related overtime in 2016–17, £30m ($38.5m) up from the year before.

The NHS has recently been trialing a number of AI technologies to reduce inefficiencies, streamline its operations and save lives with early medical interventions, with Google's DeepMind recently beginning a trial, in addition to Dutch company ScreenPoint Medical.

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