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Somerset NHS Foundation Trust becomes first to adopt Lucida Medical’s AI tool to aid prostate cancer diagnosis





An NHS trust has become the first in the UK to adopt Lucida Medical’s artificial intelligence-based tool to transform prostate cancer diagnosis.

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust is working with the Cambridge-based technology company to introduce its Pi software at both Yeovil District and Musgrove Park hospitals.

The team at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, which will adopt Lucida Medical's Pi software to improve prostate cancer diagnosis
The team at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, which will adopt Lucida Medical's Pi software to improve prostate cancer diagnosis

Pi will assist radiologists in detecting clinically significant prostate cancer by providing insights on prostate MRI scans.

The project is supported by the charities Macmillan Cancer Support and Prostate Cancer Research.

Dr Paul Burn, a consultant radiologist at the NHS trust, said: “This all started when we participated in a multi-centre national trial, called ‘PAIR-1’, that assessed the effectiveness of Pi.

“We then trialled a version of Pi at our trust, and we compared its results to radiologists’ reports in over 700 patients, to check that it would work for our purpose.

“The way it works is really simple – within a few minutes of the patient having their MRI scan, the Pi tool displays a number that gives a probability of cancer on the scan. It also shows the exact location of any tumours in the prostate by adding a colour overlay to the scan images.

“The software is located securely on a server within the hospital, so no patient data leaves the trust.

“Using it, we expect to help relieve pressure within our hospital, by enabling patients to go through the diagnostic pathway more rapidly and reducing diagnostic waiting times. It will also support our clinical departments that have smaller numbers of MRI reporters to manage their workload.

Cancer findings from Lucida Medical's Pi software, which aids prostate cancer diagnosis. Picture: Lucida Medical
Cancer findings from Lucida Medical's Pi software, which aids prostate cancer diagnosis. Picture: Lucida Medical

“We know that we have to be very careful with the way we use AI, and it’s absolutely not intended to replace a human being in any way – instead it’s simply helping to speed up the workflow and potentially aiding our radiologists provide a more accurate diagnosis.

“In many ways we’re using it as a ‘reporting buddy’, so it’ll help with prioritising patients based on clinical need, and telling us which patients we should report on first because they have a higher probability of cancer. Pi also measures the volume of the prostate gland for us, a repetitive job that is time-consuming for radiologists to do manually.”

He added: “Patients with prostate cancer have a complicated diagnostic pathway, needing an MRI and a biopsy and it is often challenging to complete all the steps within the national 28 day Faster Diagnosis Standard.

“Our aim is that by using this AI software, we will be able to speed up the process and enable us to prioritise those with cancer. It’ll also free up our radiologists to report on additional patients every day, and may in future allow us to book the patient in for a biopsy more quickly.”

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with Macmillan estimating that there are more than 500,000 men living with the disease in the UK. One in eight men will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime and it is particularly dangerous when found at stages 3 or 4.

It accounts for more than 12,000 deaths in the UK each year.

But diagnosis is not straightforward. Interpreting scans requires specialist training and is labour-intensive, leading to growing skills shortages. Studies have shown radiologists can miss 12 per cent of significant cancers on MRI, while 55 per cent of individuals without significant cancer end up with a painful and costly biopsy.

Lucida’s AI tool can cut missed cancers to 7 per cent and unnecessary biopsies to 24 per cent, while helping speed up the process.

Dr Antony Rix, of Lucida Medical. Picture: Keith Heppell
Dr Antony Rix, of Lucida Medical. Picture: Keith Heppell

Dr Antony Rix, CEO and co-founder of Lucida Medical, which is a finalist in the Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards 2024, said: “NHS hospitals, including Musgrove Park and Yeovil, have made key contributions to the development and testing of Pi through clinical studies. It’s therefore a great pleasure to see Pi put to work to help prostate patients in Somerset get the best possible diagnosis.”

Dr Anthony Cunliffe, national lead medical adviser at Macmillan Cancer Support, added: “Our investment in Lucida Medical and its pioneering AI platform, Pi is the latest venture as part of our Innovation Impact Investment Portfolio.

“Pi has the potential to transform how we diagnose and monitor patients with prostate cancer, so we’re thrilled to see this software being put to use in Musgrove Park and Yeovil.

We look forward to seeing more hospitals across the UK and Europe recognising the great potential of this technology.”

Oliver Kemp, CEO at Prostate Cancer Research (PCR), said: “We are passionate about bringing the best diagnostics and treatments into clinical use to benefit prostate cancer patients. We are delighted that Lucida Medical has reached this tremendous milestone following PCR’s investment in the company and its revolutionary Pi technology.”




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