In the NHS, pathologists review slides of tissue samples (histopathology) to assess for the presence of cancer, how aggressive it is, and how much is present so that treatment decisions can be taken for patients. However, there are increasing volumes of cases and cases are becoming more complex; there is also a shortage of trained pathologists.
46,000 new UK prostate cancer cases each year, 12% increase in 10 years (National Prostate Cancer Audit). Treatment and diagnostic service experience vary with geography.
97% of NHS pathology departments have insufficient staff to deliver services (2018, Royal College of Pathologists)
>35% of pathologists disagree in diagnosing treatment cut-off boarder (Melliti et al, 2017). Gleason 3 + 4 = 7 is cut-off for Clinically Significant Prostate Cancer (NICE).
In particular, men being investigated for prostate cancer usually have a prostate biopsy. This involves small samples of tissue being sent to a Histopathology / Cellular Pathology laboratory for processing. The slides generated are scanned and viewed by a pathologist on a digital screen in order to assess if cancer is present or not and how aggressive it looks (Gleason Grade).
By using digital images and AI (artificial intelligence) based diagnostics rather than glass slides, pathologists can create a safer, more efficient service. Much of the screening, grading and measuring could be done by pathologists with the assistance of AI tools (computer assisted technology) particularly in prostate cancer diagnostics, where there are already regulatory approved tools available.
One such tool is Paige Prostate – this is a clinical-grade, computer assisted diagnostic software system that helps pathologists with detecting, grading and measuring prostate tumours in biopsies obtained from patients at risk of prostate cancer.
The clinical software assists pathologists with:
- Highlighting areas suspicious of cancer
- Gleason Grading (how aggressive the tumour looks and therefore might behave)
- Measurements of the amount of tumour present.
The system is tested and proven to help pathologists diagnose more accurately and more efficiently.
It is approved by regulatory bodies to be used in clinical practice.