NHS data tests show potential of AI breast cancer screening

Scottish academic help develop new technology that could play a key role in finding interval cancers

Credit: Elías Alarcón/Pixabay

Artificial intelligence breast screening technology developed by academics and health-service professionals could help detect abnormalities that would be missed using current screening procedures.  

The development by the University of Aberdeen, NHS Grampian, and Kheiron Medical Technologies analysed 220,000 mammograms from over 55,000 people to determine how well the AI tool could detect breast cancer.  

The software, named ‘Mia’, was assessed by a research team from the University of Aberdeen. Analysis found that the technology was successful in identifying potentially missed cancers, known as interval cancers – an invasive cancer diagnosed within the three-year period after a normal result.  

The university team found that Mia would have suggested recalling 34.1% of women that would go on to develop cancer in between screenings.  

Related content

Dr Clarisse de Vries, radiology imaging researcher at the University of Aberdeen, said: “Our finding is a massive step forward in using AI technology in diagnostic medicine – we showed that once ‘tuned’ to the local environment, AI can be of enormous benefit to clinicians and importantly, people who may be at risk of developing cancer. Our results show that AI, and in this case Mia, offers huge potential for detecting cancers that may otherwise be missed.”

She added: “Fundamentally however, our study shows that AI tools must be tested first and tuned for the local population and conditions, and we have been fortunate to have been able to do just that here in Grampian. Previously, it was unclear whether AI tools developed elsewhere could be used in different settings and screening centres. Now we know there are risks in just taking an AI tool developed elsewhere and implementing it locally. You must first test the tool on the local data to ensure it will work as expected.”

Professor Roger Staff, head of imaging physics at NHS Grampian, added: “This is a critical study, identifying the steps required to get this technology into service. Although the results indicate that the technology is not quite ‘plug and play,’ it has the potential for major health and operational gains for the service.”

Ruaraidh Gilmour

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Subscribe to our newsletter