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Six new NHS trusts across England are to receive funding for a groundbreaking trial of artificial intelligence to accelerate the diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Men across England could benefit from faster diagnosis and quicker treatment of prostate cancer following the expansion of a pioneering trial of AI to analyse biopsies. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, with over 40,000 diagnoses in England every year. In the UK, nearly 100,000 men undergo a prostate biopsy every year, and this number is expected to double in the next 10 years.

The AI model has been designed to help reduce diagnostic errors and speed up diagnosis. Clinicians will compare the results of the AI analysis to current diagnosis methods, where biopsies are meticulously reviewed by a pathologist.

Speaking at the time of the announcement, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said:

“Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform our health and care system and studies like this are vital in understanding the impact AI can make. Cancer diagnosis and treatment has remained a top priority throughout the pandemic and I am committed to busting the backlog in cancer care. The earlier cancer is detected the quicker it is treated leading to better outcomes for patients, so this groundbreaking work has the potential to benefit thousands of people.”

Funded as part of the £140 million NHSX AI in Health and Care awards, the study will enable researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of the AI solution in detecting and grading cancer in prostate biopsies using samples from 600 men over 14 months. The funding will be used for deploying and evaluating the AI technology, with the potential for it to be adopted more widely across the health service, cutting diagnosis times and freeing up valuable clinician time.

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