East Midlands NHS trusts trial AI for cancer screening

Hospital trusts in Lincolnshire and Nottingham to examine potential of using software tools to review mammograms

Credit: Rui Vieira/PA

Two NHS trusts in the East Midlands are to conduct a “groundbreaking” trial to explore the use of artificial intelligence technology in breast cancer screening.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust will both experiment with the use of tools from AI companies Faculty and Kheiron Medical. The former offers a software platform designed to “optimise clinic scheduling and staff resourcing”, while the latter provides mammogram intelligent assessment (MIA) technology that aims to diagnose breast cancer using an intelligent algorithm.

These tools will initially be trialled on a retrospective basis, and used to examine anonymised images from old breast cancer screenings – known as mammograms. 


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If this first stage demonstrates that the process is safe, then the technology will be used to review the results of new screenings. After which, they will also be examined by expert staff, with the results of the two reviews compared.

ULHT said that the trial takes place against a backdrop of “national shortage of radiologists”. 

The trust’s consultant mammographer and lead on the project Bernadette Trzcinski said: “I am really excited to be working on this trial, which may revolutionise how we read scans in the future. Across the country we desperately need something to help us with the current staff shortages, which are predicted to become increasingly challenging as the demand for imaging grows. The success of this project will transform the breast-screening service, improving both quality and efficiency for our breast screening population.

She added: “It is not about replacing radiologists. All scans at the Trust will continue to be read by at least one member of the breast screening reading team. However, if MIA is successful, it has the potential to half the amount of time we spend reviewing scans, this is time we could be spending with our patients, improving their overall experience.”

The two trusts are among the five that banded together in 2013 to form the East Midlands Radiology Consortium. 

 

Sam Trendall

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