Artificial intelligence will be used to help stop 22,000 cancer deaths a year by 2033, Theresa May will say in a speech setting out how science can transform health.
Medical records, along with information about patients’ habits and genetics, will be cross-referenced with national data to spot those at an early stage of cancer.
The Prime Minister will also pledge to help people remain healthier for an extra five years.
Earlier detection and diagnosis could fundamentally transform outcomes for people with cancer, as well as saving the NHS money. Sir Harpal Kumar, chief executive officer of Cancer Research
Speaking in Macclesfield, Cheshire, Mrs May will say: “Late diagnosis of otherwise treatable illnesses is one of the biggest causes of avoidable deaths.
“And the development of smart technologies to analyse 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 armoury in the fight against disease.
“Achieving this mission will not only save thousands of lives. It will incubate a whole new industry around AI-in-healthcare, creating high-skilled science jobs across the country, drawing on existing centres of excellence in places like Edinburgh, Oxford and Leeds – and helping to grow new ones.”
All of the data and technological advances needed to help cut cancer deaths are available but a system has not yet been set up to bring everything together.
The PM will say at least 50,000 people each year with prostate, ovarian, lung or bowel cancer will be diagnosed at an earlier stage than they would have been.
She will also use the speech to announce another target to ensure that five more years of people’s lives will be healthy, independent and active by 2035.
Older workers who want to remain in their jobs will be given support to make that happen under the plan and there will be improvements in public health and social care.
Mrs May will add: “Our challenge as a nation, and my determination as Prime Minister, is not just to lead the world in the fourth industrial revolution – but to ensure that every part of our country powers that success.”
Around £1.4 billion has already been invested in research and development for the “grand challenges” programme the targets are being set under.
Sir Harpal Kumar, chief executive officer of Cancer Research, said that if the changes cut late diagnosis by half in the next 15 years, 22,000 fewer people with lung, bowel, prostate and ovarian cancers would die within five years of their diagnosis.
He added: “Earlier detection and diagnosis could fundamentally transform outcomes for people with cancer, as well as saving the NHS money.
“The Government’s mission to revolutionise healthcare using the power of artificial intelligence is 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.
“We need to ensure we have the right infrastructure, embedded in our health system, to make this possible.”
Other chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes and dementia will also be targeted.
Simon Gillespie, chief executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “There is promising evidence that using artificial intelligence to analyse MRI scans could spot early signs of heart disease which may be missed by current techniques. This could lead to a quicker diagnosis with more personalised treatment that could ultimately save lives.”