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Faster results for prostate patients

11 December 2019

Patients having investigations for prostate cancer are set to benefit from speedier results thanks to new Artificial Intelligence (AI) software recently installed at Southend University Hospital.

This is the first time the new software, called Watson Elementary, has been used clinically in this way in the UK having already been installed in over 30 hospitals across Europe.

The software, developed by Watson Medical, can 'read' an MRI scan of the prostate and highlight potential cancerous areas with a high degree of accuracy, reducing the time needed for a consultant radiologist to report the scan. As well as providing a fast second read of all prostate scans undertaken at the hospital, the software enables doctors to outline the areas of concern allowing for improved targeting of biopsies.

The benefits of the software also extend to treatment as Dr Sidath Liyanage, consultant radiologist, explained: "Watson Elementary is a fantastic addition to our MRI reading suite - it's just as good as the human eye. This means that the AI can read a scan and highlight any potential cancerous areas before a consultant radiologist has even looked at it, acting as a second pair of eyes.

"And that's great when it comes to treatment because having a precise outline of the cancer means the urologists and oncologists can risk asses, manage and treat patients very accurately."

The release of funding for the new software was approved by the National Cancer Programme Delivery Group and NHS England as a Cancer Improvement bid.

PHOTO (l-r):

  • Sidath Liyanage, consultant radiologist
  • MRI radiographers Aaron Webb and Katherine Woollard
  • Dr Susan Barley, head of medical physics, R&D, Oncology Systems Limited
  • Erik Agterhuis, managing director, Watson Medical
  • Johan Nahuis, clinical education specialist, MRI GE Healthcare