AI-driven cancer assessment tool being studied in Glasgow

The University of Glasgow and medial imaging software specialists, Canon Medical Research Europe, are studying an AI-driven cancer assessment tool for Mesothelioma – which is also known as ‘asbestos cancer’.

The tool was developed as part of the Cancer Innovation Challenge, a £1 million project funded by the Scottish Government to encourage collaboration between innovation centres and businesses. It is hoped the ‘prototype imaging system’, which finds and measures Mesothelioma on CT scans and can help assess patient response to drug treatments, could ‘revolutionise’ care for patients with the disease.

Patients undergoing treatment for this type of cancer are currently being assessed using the automated tool, as part of a study – with clinical results set to be published.

AI and data scientists from Canon Medical, plus Research and Innovation staff from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and University researchers based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, have worked together on the project.

The University says the AI was ‘trained’ by showing it over 100 CT scans, on which an ‘expert clinician had drawn around all areas of the tumour’. After its training, the AI was then shown a new set of scans and was able to ‘find and measure’ the tumour ‘extremely accurately’ by itself.

It’s hoped that as the tool ‘streamlines tumour measurements’, it could make clinical trials of new drugs easier, quicker and less expensive, as well as provide a ‘strong foundation’ for ‘similar tools’ to be developed for other cancers.

The AI innovation is part of an international ‘accelerator’ network funded by Cancer Research UK, which means it may soon be available to doctors.

Keith Goatman, Principal Scientist at Canon Medical, said: “The speed and accuracy of the AI algorithm could have a wide-reaching impact on Mesothelioma treatment. Accurate tumour volume measurements are much too time-consuming to perform by hand. Automating these measurements will open the way for clinical trials of new treatments, by detecting even small changes in the tumour size. Ultimately, it could be used routinely in hospitals to decide the best treatment for each individual.

“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.”

Professor Kevin Blyth, Professor of Respiratory Medicine in the University of Glasgow, and Honorary Consultant Respiratory Physician at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, added: “To our knowledge, this study is world-leading in its successful use of AI to assess treatment response in Mesothelioma. Using external data sets to validate our results, we have shown that tumours can be accurately measured by AI, giving us a new tool that will help us make better decisions for patients on treatment and reducing barriers to development of new treatments in clinical trials.”

Find out more about the study at