Cambridge Hospital Pioneers AI-Driven Liver Cancer Treatment

For the first time in an NHS hospital, Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge has incorporated artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance the treatment of liver cancer, the BBC reports.

This integration of AI technology has been applied to the thermal ablation procedure, leading to increased precision and effectiveness, as explained by Radiology consultant Nadeem Shaida.

The AI Advantage in Hospitals

Half of the approximate 75 liver cancer patients it treats are eligible for the procedure, claims Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

According to Mr Shaida ultrasound and CT scan technology was previously used as part of the treatment, but that AI had “given us extra confidence”.

“Before AI we had to rely on our own eye to interpret the images and that’s prone to variability among different readers,” he said.

“AI helps us identify straight away if we’ve taken enough tissue, and if not, we can put the needle back in while the patient is still asleep rather than calling it a day, and then waiting for six weeks before another scan shows you need to repeat the procedure.”

AI Integration: Enhancing Procedures for Success

Thermal ablation is a procedure that entails the insertion of a needle or probes into small tumours to eliminate them using heat.

This approach has gained popularity as a treatment option due to its minimally invasive nature when compared to traditional surgical methods.

The hospital has integrated AI technology that has been trained with data from thousands of patients. This enables the AI system to provide a more precise delineation of both the tumour and the surrounding healthy tissue margins.

This AI technology was used recently for patient Charles Sykes’s liver cancer treatment at Addenbrooke’s.

The procedure the 76-year-old said seemed straightforward, adding: “If someone hadn’t told me AI is what they’d used, I wouldn’t have known, but I’m delighted it was available because it improves the chances of success.”

AI is currently employed in the thermal ablation of kidney and lung tumours at various centres across Europe. Addenbrooke’s Hospital will closely track its effectiveness in liver cancer treatment.

A global AI Safety Summit scheduled to take place at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire this week will delve into the pros and cons of AI technology, as it is utilised across diverse sectors, such as healthcare.

While AI proves highly valuable in these sectors, there are concerns that its growing dependence may lead to a decrease in human employment opportunities.

Regarding the use of AI in the medical sector, Mr Shaida said: “I don’t think interventional radiologists will be out of a job because you still need people to run, guide and understand the system, and to put the needle in physically,”

“But it’s a really useful addition to our daily working lives and could reduce the chance of interpretation error around the world.”

The upcoming AI summit this week will discuss the utilisation of AI across various sectors, including concerns about potential job opportunities for humans. It aims to provide clarity to the public about how we can anticipate coexisting with AI in the future.