AI will save lives of 22,000 cancer patients a year, prime minister announces

Written by Sam Trendall on 21 May 2018 in News
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Theresa May uses speech in Macclesfield to announce plans to work with technology sector and NHS to improve diagnoses

Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images

Prime minister Theresa May believes that better use of artificial-intelligence technologies could reduce the number of people in the UK dying from cancer each year by 22,000.

In a speech today, the PM challenged the AI sector to work with the NHS and health charities to improve diagnostic procedures for cancer.

By 2033, the plan is to increase by 50,000 a year the number of people with prostate, ovarian, lung, or bowel cancer who are diagnosed at an early stage of the disease.

This, the PM said, will mean that 22,000 fewer people die within five years of receiving a cancer diagnosis. 


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This diagnostic improvement could be achieved by using AI and other tools to collate and analyse data related to patients’ genetics, lifestyle, and medical history, she added.

“Late diagnosis of otherwise-treatable illnesses is one of the biggest causes of avoidable deaths,” the prime minister said. “The development of smart technologies to analyse great quantities of data quickly and with a higher degree of accuracy than is possible by human beings opens up a whole new field of medical research, and gives us a new weapon in our armoury in the fight against disease.” 

The increased use of AI and analytics in healthcare will also benefit industry and provide a boost to some of the UK technology sector’s hotspots, according to the PM.

She said: “It will incubate a whole new industry around AI-in-healthcare, creating high-skilled science jobs across the country, drawing on existing centres of excellence in places like Edinburgh, Oxford and Leeds – and helping to grow new ones.”

The government “will work with industry and the medical research community to announce specific ambitions in a range of other disease areas over the coming weeks and months”, the prime minister said.

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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