New AI method for diagnosing prostate cancer begins trial in Oxford

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An Artificial Intelligence (AI) software that helps with diagnosing prostate cancer is being trialled by researchers at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust.

Researchers and clinicians in Oxford have begun an evaluation of AI software that could help pathologists with diagnosing prostate cancer. Testing of the technology in a clinical setting, which is underway at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust, is a key milestone in the University of Oxford-led ARTICULATE PRO study.

There is no single, definitive test for prostate cancer. Healthcare professionals diagnose prostate cancer using a biopsy, which includes a transperineal biopsy and a transrectal biopsy. However, researchers are continuously seeking new methods of diagnosing prostate cancer.

A two-year project investigating AI for diagnosing prostate cancer

The project will be conducted over two years and is funded by an AI in Health and Care Award from the NHS AI Lab in partnership with the Accelerated Access Collaborative, aims to investigate the deployment of AI in the prostate cancer pathway by using Paige Prostate, computer-assisted diagnostic system that aims to help pathologists detect, grade and measure tumours in prostate biopsies, or tissue samples.

OUH pathologists are using AI software to help read prostate biopsy slides as part of their routine work. The technology then flags suspicious areas immediately by identifying the hallmarks of malignant cells captured by previous training in large data sets of biopsies. It also assesses the amount of tumour present and how aggressive it appears.

OUH Cellular Pathology Consultant and Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences Associate Professor Clare Verrill said: “One of our key aims in the health service is to diagnose cancers accurately and at an earlier stage so that treatment can be delivered more quickly and, ultimately, outcomes for patients improve. If we can harness this diagnostic technology to achieve this, it will be great news for patients.

“That’s why this evaluation – one of the first of its kind – is an important step. We will be looking not only at how well this software performs in a busy clinical setting and whether diagnostic accuracy and efficiency improves, but also assessing the experience of clinicians and patients, and looking at the impact on workflow.”

She added: “In 2020, OUH’s histopathology laboratory was one of the first in the UK to achieve the milestone of scanning 100% of its surgical histology workload. Our digital pathology experience makes us an ideal setting to test AI technologies such as Paige Prostate Suite in a real-world clinical setting.”

46,000 prostate cancer cases reported yearly

Figures illuminate that 46,000 new prostate cancer cases are reported in the UK yearly, representing a 12% increase in the past ten years.

The ARTICULATE PRO team have previously published a survey of Prostate Cancer UK supporters on the use of digital pathology and AI technologies in diagnostic practice.

Two other NHS trusts – University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire and North Bristol NHS Trust – will also assess the Paige Prostate Suite software.

Margaret Horton, Vice President of Clinical Partnerships and Evidence Generation at Paige, said: “With patients in focus as the beneficiaries of Paige’s prostate AI in routine use, we look forward to completing our health economics study assessing the impacts of using AI in routine service.

 “We are excited to be evaluating the potential health economic benefits of deploying the Paige Prostate Suite in a large and diverse real-world clinical setting together with our advisors and partners at the York Health Economic Consortium.”

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