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Researchers and clinicians in Oxford have begun an evaluation of artificial intelligence (AI) software that could help pathologists diagnose prostate cancer.

Testing of the technology in a clinical setting, which is under way at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust, is a key milestone in the University of Oxford-led ARTICULATE PRO study.

This two-year project, 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 the AI applications to help read prostate biopsy slides as part of their routine work. The technology should flag suspicious areas to pathologists immediately by identifying the hallmarks of malignant cells captured by previous training in large datasets of biopsies. It also assesses the amount of tumour present and how aggressive it appears.

The project is led by OUH Cellular Pathology Consultant and Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences Associate Professor Clare Verrill, an expert urological histopathologist. She leads a multidisciplinary team of clinical and non-clinical colleagues, including three patient representatives.   

Professor 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."

Read the full story on Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust website