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A gloved hand holds three slides with biopsy samples against a microscope in the background.
Digital pathology is the use of automated slide scanners to digitize the histopathology process.
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The UK Govt Approves Using Digital Pathology for Cancer Screening

A multicenter study compared the analyses of cancer screening sample slides from digital pathology with light microscopy

University of Warwick
Published:Jan 26, 2024
|2 min read
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New research funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has led to the UK government approving the use of digital pathology to help speed up the analysis of cancer screening samples.

This allows the benefits offered by digital pathology to be used to improve cancer screening, particularly in bowel, breast, lung, and cervical cancers. The use of this technology, based on research done by University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust and The University of Warwick’s Clinical Trials Unit, will result in faster reporting of people’s samples helping to deliver world-class care.

Histopathology versus digital pathology

Histopathology is a key step in many major disease pathways, where early detection of cancer plays a crucial role in survival. Digital pathology is the use of automated slide scanners to digitize the histopathology process. Results are reported on computer workstations as opposed to a conventional microscope, enabling pathologists to report samples remotely from the laboratory producing slides.

This process makes sharing samples easier, helping to reduce the risk of loss or damage of samples. It also mitigates the need for pathologists to be present in hospitals, as they can review the slides remotely. Digitizing the slides might also allow the use of computer algorithms to help improve pathologists’ performance in the coming years.

Following a consultation by the UK National Screening Committee, the Government has now approved the use of digital pathology for analyzing cancer screening samples.

A milestone achievement

Lead researcher and consultant pathologist professor David Snead, MBBS, of UHCW and The University of Warwick, said: “I am delighted that digital pathology is cleared for use in cancer screening programs. It is a big milestone to achieve and we are extremely proud that the work we have led proved so effective in making this change.”

In total, six NHS hospitals participated in this study, which aimed to demonstrate equivalence in pathologists reporting of a sample when using digital pathology in comparison to light microscopy, the current standard.

- This press release was originally published on the University of Warwick website