Assessing AI for early detection of oesophageal cancer


The work

As part of an Innovate UK funded research collaboration, PHG Foundation is leading the analysis of the ethical and legal implications of using artificial intelligence to help detect oesophageal cancer.

Project DELTA (integrateD diagnostic solution for EarLy deTection of oesophageal cAncer) aims to identify up to 50% of cases of oesophageal cancer earlier, using the innovative Cytosponge™-TFF3 test - the ‘sponge on a string’ -  to diagnose Barratt’s oesophagus. 

This initiative includes the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Kings College London, the PHG Foundation and Cyted.

Why it matters

Barrett's oesophagus is a condition that can turn into cancer of the oesophagus. Oesophageal cancer takes the lives of around 8,000 in the UK each year, often because the cancer is diagnosed too late. It is a condition that is more common in patients who suffer with heartburn.

As part of project DELTA, the use of AI algorithms to identify at-risk individuals and to assist pathologists with rapid diagnoses is being tested. People diagnosed with Barrett’s oesophagus can then be monitored regularly for early signs of cancer. It is hoped the application of AI to the Cytosponge™-TFF3 test will deliver improvements in survival and quality of life for patients and economic benefits for the NHS.

What PHG Foundation are doing

Underpinning the first stage of our analysis is a series of workshops where we will:

  • explore with other experts the ethical, legal and professional policy factors influencing the nature and levels of human involvement required in using AI-driven digital pathology in health care
  • talk to healthcare professional and patients about their attitudes to AI-driven automation
  • delve deeper into the choices developers and users made in the development of the AI system

For more information about our work on project DELTA and the use of AI in oesophageal cancer prevention contact Dr Colin Mitchell.

This project has received funding from Innovate UK and will report in 2023.

Genomics and policy newsletter

Sign up