A UK hospital claimed to be the first in the country’s National Health Service to deploy a pioneering cancer treatment employing AI, citing improvements in tumour discovery and removal over current methods.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital stated it is employing AI to train computers used to map patients’ organs during computerised tomography (CT) scans, citing improved accuracy, along with faster and less invasive treatments.

The thermal ablation treatment “is highly-targeted and can treat multiple small tumours with less risk to surrounding healthy tissue”, the hospital stated.

It explained the approach could result in more effective treatments for a greater number of patients, for example by enabling them to be attended to in CT suites instead of operating theatres, which simplifies the process of conducting any additional scans required.

Nadeem Shaida, consultant interventional radiologist at Addenbrooke’s, said the tie-up between “the precision of AI and thermal ablation means hard-to-reach or very small tumours can be more easily and effectively treated”.

A pilot run over two years and involving 50 liver cancer patients found less than half required further treatment.

The hospital stated it is “now looking at how this treatment can be expanded to kidney and other cancer patients”.

Addenbrooke’s move highlights growing enthusiasm over the benefits AI could offer in cancer treatments.

A healthcare professional examines a scan of a patients organs displayed on a computer screen

In August, the UK-based National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued draft guidance covering nine AI technologies it believes could be used in external beam radiotherapy for several forms of cancer.

Later that month, the US Food and Drug Administration approved AI-based medical imaging software developed by specialist company Techsomed to aid in the planning of liver ablation procedures.