A.I. to be used as a 'new weapon' in the UK's fight against cancer

Key Points
  • There were 166,135 deaths from cancer in the U.K. in 2016, according to Cancer Research U.K.
  • Emerging technologies will be used to cross reference genetics, medical records and habits with national data to spot people at an early stage of cancer.
Ariel Skelly | DigitalVision | Getty Images

Prime Minister Theresa May will lay out plans Monday for the U.K. to use artificial intelligence (AI) and data in the diagnosis of chronic diseases.

The plans will see roughly 22,000 fewer people dying from cancer a year by 2033, the government said in a statement, with at least 50,000 people per year diagnosed at an early stage of prostate, ovarian, lung or bowel cancer.

Emerging technologies will be used to cross reference genetics, medical records and habits with national data in order to spot people at an early stage of cancer, the government added. In her speech, which will be given in the northern town of Macclesfield, May is expected to describe the late diagnosis of otherwise treatable illnesses as "one of the biggest causes of avoidable deaths."

May will add that the development of "smart technologies to analyze great quantities of data quickly and with a higher degree of accuracy than is possible by human beings opens up a whole new field of medical research and gives us a new weapon in our armory in the fight against disease."

There were 166,135 deaths from cancer in the U.K. in 2016, according to Cancer Research U.K. Nearly half of all cancer deaths were lung, bowel, breast or prostate cancer.

The move was welcomed by Harpal Kumar, the CEO of Cancer Research U.K. "Earlier detection and diagnosis could fundamentally transform outcomes for people with cancer, as well as saving the NHS money," he said in a statement, adding that the government's mission to revolutionize health care using AI was "pioneering."

"Advances in detection technologies depend on the intelligent use of data and have the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives every year," he went on to say. "We need to ensure we have the right infrastructure, embedded in our health system, to make this possible."