British Prime Minister Theresa May has promised millions of pounds to help produce AI systems that will help diagnose cancer earlier, which in turn will save thousands of lives. The goal is for a series of algorithms to be created which will scour medical data to find symptom and lifestyle information that can be used to advise a general practitioner on when a specialist should be called in.
Right now, a patient with the early symptoms of cancer would have to hope that their doctor guesses that they have a deadly condition and not something more common. Pancreatic cancer, an example with a high fatality rate, only causes symptoms in the late stages and begins by causing back pain and appetite loss. Hardly conditions that seem too extraordinary, but in this case ones which signal a terrifying condition.
With this technology, a patient with those symptoms and associated risk factors would be quickly identified and recommended for further tests.
Will it be put to good use? Can the NHS save people with it?
Given the massive amounts of information that the United Kingdom’s National Health Service has access to, the algorithms would have plenty of data to work with and advances in cancer detection are bound to follow. Similarly, the technology required to make the program work would be rather advanced and will drive AI innovations for years to come.
It should be repeated that the goal of this technology is not to help find a cure but to help diagnose sooner by identifying the people who show early symptoms and have risk factors. As of right now, early detection is one of the best tools for beating cancer. So, this tech will save thousands of lives a year in England alone if it proves successful.