UK to pledge millions to AI research for early cancer diagnosis: Report

Tuesday, 22 May 2018, 04:17 Hrs
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British Prime Minister Theresa May is likely to announce plans to invest millions of pounds to fund an artificial intelligence (AI) research to improve early diagnosis of cancer and chronic disease, the media reported.

It could lead to at least 50,000 people being diagnosed at an early stage of prostate, ovarian, lung or bowel cancer each year, the Guardian reported.

As part of the new strategy, industry and charities were expected to work with the National Health Service (NHS) to develop algorithms that could use patient data and lifestyle information to warn doctors when a patient required to be referred to an oncologist or another specialist.

The proposal would also include allowing commercial firms access to NHS data for profit, raising controversial questions about the ethics of data sharing, privacy, and making money from a public asset.

The plan is a long-term investment, a Downing Street spokesman was quoted as saying. Digital strategies that could speed diagnosis and accuracy would lead to earlier and cheaper intervention. Late intervention is often invasive and expensive and ultimately unsuccessful, the spokesman said.

AI could help prevent 22,000 deaths from cancer each year by 2033, and give patients an additional five years of healthy, independent life by 2035, the report said.

"If this infrastructure enabled us to reduce late diagnosis by half in the next 15 years, then for just four types of cancers -- lung, bowel, prostate and ovary -- 22,000 fewer people each year would die within five years of their diagnosis," Harpal Kumar, the chief executive of Cancer Research UK, was quoted as saying to the Guardian.

"Our goal is that three in four people will survive their cancer by 2034 and we support efforts that will help us achieve this ambition," he noted.

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