Digital pathology in breast cancer diagnosis

To raise awareness around Breast Cancer Awareness month, this October NPIC has teamed up with one of our specialist breast cancer pathologists at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to bring you the below video. In this short video Dr Millican-Slater talks about her work as a pathologist and how advances in technology can enhance this work.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month when people from around the world unite to show support for people affected by breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK. It is estimated that the national Breast Cancer Screening Programme saves the lives of around 1,300 women every year in the UK. Pathologists play a crucial role in diagnosing and assessing breast cancers from patient tissue specimens. Dr Rebecca Millican-Slater, a specialist breast cancer pathologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust uses the latest digital pathology techniques in her work and research.

Dr Rebecca Millican-Slater commented: “Each year, the breast pathology team at the Trust receive and assess almost 3,000 breast biopsies. Around one-third of the biopsies that are assessed will result in a diagnosis of breast cancer. As a pathologist, my role is challenged by a greater workload as a result of more specimens being received and the increasing numbers tests which need to be carried out. Using digital pathology means I can look at a tissue samples efficiently on my computer. This has several advantages including streamlined diagnosis resulting in reduced waiting times for results to be given to patients.”

Digital pathology could also enable the development of artificial intelligence tools that could support pathologists in making cancer diagnoses, and improve patient pathways and outcomes for people with breast cancer. The team at NPIC is working with Leica Biosystems to develop AI tools and advance AI technologies that may start to recognise patterns in cancer which could lead to new therapies to improve patient outcomes and breast cancer survival rates.