Ulster University researchers to work on new breast cancer diagnosis tool

23 Mar 2016

Ulster University has landed a key role in an EU-funded project to improve the diagnosis of breast cancer throughout the world.

A new €3.3m Horizon 2020 (H2020) project looking to “transform” doctors’ decision-making process in breast cancer diagnosis has included Ulster University researchers.

Securing €550,000 for its involvement, Ulster University is helping to develop a new medical image analysis tool, dipping into its pool of researchers across computer, health and psychology departments.

The team will also work on a ‘decision support system’, which makes it sound less technical than it actually is. This will help doctors to make personalised treatment recommendations based on previous comparable cases and the patient’s genetic information.

Citing the growing risk of one of the biggest cancer concerns worldwide, Professor Hui Wang said he hopes the tool he and his colleagues work on goes some way towards saving more lives.

Professor Hui Wang, via Nigel McDowell/Ulster University

Professor Hui Wang, via Nigel McDowell/Ulster University

The project is called DESIREE (Decision Support and Information Management System for Breast Cancer), and it has an ultimate goal of using software and the internet to better manage the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer throughout specialised units in hospitals.

Recent figures from the National Cancer Registry Ireland found that woman have an almost 10pc chance of contracting breast cancer by the age of 75, with incidence rates rising substantially since the mid-1990s.

With mounds of patient data being retrieved every day by every doctor dealing with breast cancer, Wang says his work will not replace standard biopsy procedures, but rather enhance doctors’ “interpretation of clinical data, medical images and tests”.

“Ulster University’s involvement in the DESIREE project will ensure our world-leading expertise can contribute to best practice in breast cancer units across Europe.”

Other institutions involved are spread throughout Spain, Germany, France, Greece and the US.

Elsewhere, British doctors claim to have developed a drug that can dramatically shrink or destroy tumours in under two weeks.

Breast cancer image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic