Doctors at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge aim to drastically cut cancer waiting times by using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate lengthy radiotherapy preparations.
The AI technology, known as InnerEye, is the result of an eight-year collaboration between researchers at Cambridge-based Microsoft Research, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the University of Cambridge.
InnerEye aims to save clinicians many hours of time laboriously marking up patient scans prior to radiotherapy. The team has demonstrated how machine learning (ML) models built using the InnerEye open-source technology can cut this preparation time by up to 90% – meaning that waiting times for starting potentially life-saving radiotherapy treatment can be dramatically reduced.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “New innovations like this can make all the difference to patients and I am proud to see we are once again leading the way in new cancer treatments.
“Helping people receive treatment faster is incredibly important and will not only improve recovery rates but will save clinicians precious time so they can focus on caring for patients.
“Embracing new technologies will help save lives and is vital for the sustainability of the NHS, and our NHS Long Term Plan will continue to deliver the best possible care for patients so that we can offer faster, more personalized and effective cancer treatment for all.”
Dr. Raj Jena from the Department of Oncology at the University of Cambridge and an oncologist at Addenbrooke’s, who co-leads InnerEye, said: “These results are a game-changer. To be diagnosed with a tumor of any kind is an incredibly traumatic experience for patients. So as clinicians we want to start radiotherapy promptly to improve survival rates and reduce anxiety. Using machine learning tools can save time for busy clinicians and help get our patients onto treatment as quickly as