Managing Director, Diagnostics, ABHI
Early cancer detection and diagnosis can not only aid with earlier treatment interventions but it also shows potential in minimising cancer risks in the first place.
It is beyond doubt that cancer detected at an early stage saves lives. If diagnosed at the earliest stage, almost all women with breast cancer and more than 9 in 10 people with bowel cancer survive their disease for five years or more. This falls to around 3 in 10 women when breast cancer is diagnosed at the most advanced stage and drops to just 1 in 10 people for those with bowel cancer.
Targets for early cancer diagnosis
Ambitious targets, such as NHS England’s commitment to detecting 75% of cancers at stage I and II by 2028, have improved public awareness. Additionally, more streamlined diagnostic pathways all contribute to shifting our ability to accurately detect and diagnose cancer at an early stage. Yet, the true potential of early detection and diagnosis remains largely unexploited.
AI tools enable the incorporation and computational analysis of disparate, complex data streams to inform predictive treatment models.
Multi-cancer early detection (MCED) tests have the potential to find more than one type of cancer from a single blood sample and revolutionise cancer screening. Investment in and research into the effectiveness of MCEDs continues apace.
How AI can aid diagnosis and treatment
As the amount of data generated from an individual’s healthcare journey increases, the application of artificial intelligence (AI) is expanding to determine new approaches for cancer detection, screening and diagnosis. AI tools enable the incorporation and computational analysis of disparate, complex data streams to inform predictive treatment models, rendering possible precision oncology and personalised medicine.
Genome sequencing to minimise risk
At a molecular level, advances in genome sequencing provide evidence of genetic mutations which might predispose a patient to cancer. A route to risk-based detection and prevention is starting to emerge to support a life course approach to minimising risk factors and enhancing protective factors through evidence-based interventions at important life stages.
Accelerating early detection and diagnosis
Beyond the clear potential for health benefits, a shift to early diagnosis can alleviate the need for costly, long-term treatments, thus aiding the clinical workforce and easing pressures on the healthcare system itself. The UK can be a world leader in developing a thriving early detection and diagnosis industry, capitalising on its excellent science base, the unmatched diversity of health data and infrastructure and a history of collaborative efforts across an interlinked network of expertise.