SCOTLAND has the world’s highest incidence of the “asbestos cancer” mesothelioma and now artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to assess patients in a system that could revolutionise how they are cared for.

Canon Medical Research Europe, a Scottish firm specialising in next generation medical imaging software, and the University of Glasgow are set to publish clinical findings from a study evaluating a new, world-leading AI-driven cancer assessment tool, developed as part of the Cancer Innovation Challenge. The study team, comprising AI and data scientists at Canon Medical and University of Glasgow clinical researchers at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Research and Innovation staff, created a prototype AI system able to automatically find and measure mesothelioma on CT scans.

These are used to assess a patient’s response to drug treatments and the AI was trained by showing it more than 100 CT scans, on which an expert clinician had drawn around the tumour – showing it what to look for. The trained AI was then shown new scans and was able to find and measure the tumour extremely accurately, with no human input.

Mesothelioma was the intentional focus given its prevalence here and because it is one of the most difficult to measure cancers on CT scans.

The project brings together three innovation centres, led by The Data Lab, with Digital Health and Care Institute (DHI) and Precision Medicine Scotland.

Keith Goatman, principal scientist at Canon Medical, said: “The funding and support from the Cancer Innovation Challenge has been vital in bringing this idea to life, and we are looking forward to continuing our work with the excellent team at the University of Glasgow in the years to come. This work is a strong first step towards real change in the treatment of all cancers – not just mesothelioma.”