AI model may predict breast cancer spread based on lymph node changes

A new study has been published by scientists from the Breast Cancer Now Unit at King’s College London to show their AI model could establish “how likely a patient is to develop secondary (incurable) breast cancer based on immune responses in the lymph nodes”.

Published on the 26th of May this year, the study reveals how scientists discovered that “even when breast cancer cells hadn’t spread to the lymph nodes, it was still possible to predict, from their immune responses, the likelihood of the cancer spreading elsewhere in the body”.

Tested on more than 5,000 lymph nodes donated to biobanks by 345 patients; the AI model was found to be successful in establishing the likelihood of breast cancer spreading to other organs, the researchers state. In particular, it is hoped that it can be tested in clinical trials to assist doctors planning treatment, as well as in giving breast cancer patients peace of mind about the likelihood of triple negative breast cancer spreading.

Dr Anita Grigoriadis, who led the research, said: “We’re planning to test the model further at centres across Europe to make it even more robust and precise. The transition from assessing tissue on glass slides under a microscope to using computers in the NHS is gathering pace. We want to leverage this change to develop AI-powered software based on our model for pathologists to use to benefit women with this hard-to-treat breast cancer.”

If the AI model continues to be successful during clinical trials, it is possible that it could help to inform treatment plans for patients based on the risks of the cancer spreading. The researchers also note the potential role that it could play in reducing unnecessary stress and worry for those concerned about their future with breast cancer.

To read more about the study, please click here.