Will Artificial Intelligence ease pressure on NHS cancer screening?
1st November, 2019
Expert Information

Written by

Julie Garner - Senior Solicitor

Medical Negligence Solicitor, Julie Garner believes the use of artificial intelligence in NHS cancer screening will save lives.

Julie’s comments are in response to a new Artificial Intelligence programme designed to accurately detect breast cancer in mammograms.

Cancer experts believe in time the programme can be ‘more accurate than doctors’ in diagnosing breast cancer.

Julie said:

“Early detection saves lives. The earlier doctors find the disease, patients have a better chance of surviving.

“However, the question remains, is this a viable tool and can the technology ease pressure on the NHS?”

Can Artificial Intelligence improve cancer detection?

In the UK today, breast screening tests happen every three years by two members of a reading team.

Although thorough, critics believe this is time consuming given the national shortage of trained staff.

Consequently, the new study is a collaborative effort between leading cancer researchers.

DeepMind, Cancer Research UK Imperial Centre, Northwestern University and Royal Surrey County Hospital, took readings of nearly 29,000 women.

Using artificial intelligence, cancer was detected in breast screen mammograms with fewer false positives and fewer false negatives than radiologists.

Overall, the new algorithm outperformed six radiologists in reading mammograms.

Can AI technology become a major asset in the battle against cancer?

At this moment in time, breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK.

According to Cancer Research UK around 55,000 women diagnosed every year.

Alarmingly, around one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and tumours are still missed.

In addition, incorrect results cause unnecessary stress and anxiety.

Julie concluded:

“With a shortage of trained radiologists across the UK, this MI tool could provide a much needed and valuable resource that could assist and save women’s lives, reduce waiting times and provide patients with improved care.

“Above all, the technology should not replace radiologists, but it can become a valuable tool in identifying and improving the breast screening service. In short, this can be anything from reducing time reviewing scans to providing more patient contact time.”

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