AI Technology and Cancer: A novel diagnostic tool

A new software, CADU, developed by world-leading AI experts shows incredible promise in its ability to revolutionise the diagnosis of oesophageal cancer, one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Strongly linked to smoking and drinking, oesophageal cancer kills over 8,000 people per year in the UK alone. Less than 20% of those diagnosed will survive 5 years after receiving their diagnosis. It’s notoriously difficult for doctors to diagnose during diagnostic endoscopies, -this is where a small camera is inserted into the patient’s food pipe (often whilst they’re still conscious)- due to the subtle differences in colour and texture of healthy and diseased tissues. As a result, over 1 in 4 cases remain undiagnosed even after this uncomfortable procedure. 

CADU was developed by experts at University College London and UCL Hospital working alongside Odin Vision, an award-winning AI company founded by clinicians from UCL. It’s been trained to act as a second opinion for doctors during diagnostic procedures, having learned through exposure to thousands of images of diseased tissue, which allows it to accurately spot the early stages of cancer.

This is the first AI-powered diagnostic tool to be approved for use on patients by the CE and UKCA administrative marking, and it seems it won’t be the last, with the NHS AI lab investing over £140,000,000 into trials for software that analyses breast cancer screening scans and assesses stroke patients. All around, the hope seems to be that AI will help drastically reduce the number of early-stage diseases which are often left undetected, and ultimately save thousands of lives. Nicola Valeri, a professor of gastrointestinal oncology at the Institute of Cancer said, “Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence in combination with standard diagnostic procedures such as endoscopies offers the potential to detect cancers earlier”.

When it comes to oesophageal cancer, early detection means over 90% of the time the disease can successfully be eradicated with less-invasive procedures. The CEO of Odin Vision, Peter Mountney stated “CADU shows promise at a clinically meaningful level and the next stage is to validate that in a larger multi-centre trial involving a number of hospitals in several countries.”

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Rosina Poller

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July 2021
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