Five new hospitals have joined a trial of artificial intelligence aimed at spotting prostate cancer quicker.

Each year more than 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, making it the most common cancer among men. Health tech company Ibex Medical Analytics are hoping to speed up the process of getting diagnosed to enable faster access to treatment.

Its artificial intelligence (AI) Galen Prostate technology aims to reduce diagnostic errors by using clinical-grade solutions to help pathologists detect and grade cancer.

Imperial College Healthcare, University College London, University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and University Hospitals Southampton will be trialling the technology with the potential for it to be adopted more widely across the health system.

Clinicians will compare the results of the AI analysis to current diagnosis methods, where biopsies are reviewed by a pathologist.

Professor Hashim Ahmed, chair of urology at Imperial College London, said: “We strongly believe that AI has the potential to enhance both quality and efficiency, which is of paramount importance as we focus on putting every patient on the path to recovery.

“Ibex’s technology has demonstrated its robustness on several studies abroad and so we look forward to seeing its performance and utility first-hand in the NHS.”

The trial is funded as part of the £140m NHSX AI awards. The company one funding in phase three of the AI Awards, working with Imperial College London to trial the technology.

Now, researchers from across the hospitals will put the technology to the test in detecting and grading cancer in 600 prostate biopsies over 14 months.

Joseph Mossel, chief executive and co-founder of Ibex Medical Analytics, said: “This funding acknowledges the potential of AI in pathology practice and the scientific evidence and clinical utility we have demonstrated to date.”

Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX, added: “We are currently caught between having too few pathologists and rising demand for biopsies. This technology could help, and give thousands of men with prostate cancer faster, more accurate diagnoses.

“It is a prime example of how AI can help clinicians improve care for patients as we recover from the pandemic.”