Artificial intelligence innovation and breast cancer detection

Sana Shah
How artificial intelligence is revolutionising breast cancer detection for the NHS


Research in brief: Telegraph article on government funding trials of AI to help breast cancer detection.


Artificial intelligence (AI) is undeniably disrupting various industries, enabling traditionally complex and onerous processes to be simplified and made more effective by the use of technology. This includes the healthcare sector, where innovation in technology is instrumental in broadening the treatments available to patients. A major new AI software that uses technology to improve the detection of breast cancer has been tested by the NHS in England last year.

The UK government has invested funding into this new AI technology developed by London-headquartered technology start-up Kheiron Medical. The company is collaborating with the East Midlands Radiology Consortium where the technology will be tested on NHS patients; an invaluable opportunity for Keiron Medical to test its software. Alongside NHS doctors who have strong expertise in this area, Kheiron Medical will be able to develop its AI software based on what has been effective, and not so effective, for the NHS in the past.

The technology works by acting as a second reader of mammograms (specialized medical imaging that aids in early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women), whereas traditionally the NHS conducts its reading of mammograms by having two different radiologists look over the same image. This AI software will enable a computer to do this job, thus requiring fewer radiologists going over any one mammogram. It will also enable reviews of mammograms to be more accurate and consistent. There are hopes that the software will improve its accuracy in detecting breast cancer with every review it carries out.

It is estimated that by 2021, the software will improve services to 170,000 women within the East Midlands and 2.2 million annually in the UK.