Find out more about how we are using artificial intelligence to help detect breast cancer with Google Health.

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For more information about the AIMS study, please contact the Clinical Trials Manager – Aminata Sy on 


What is AIMS?

Artificial Intelligence in Mammography Screening

What is the study about? 

This study is about researching how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to improve NHS breast screening. We are evaluating how an AI system could be used in NHS breast screening, to help identify breast cancer in mammograms.

Why research Artificial Intelligence (AI) for breast cancer screening?

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women over the age of 50 in the UK, with 1 in 8 women being diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime. Routine breast screening is therefore important for the early detection of breast cancer, where treatment is more likely to be successful.

Currently, NHS breast screening involves two radiologists assessing X-ray images of the breast (mammograms). If the radiologists disagree about whether cancer is likely present, the mammogram is then reviewed by a third expert.

Screening does not always find a cancer that is there. So some people with breast cancer can sometimes be missed. On the other hand, some women may receive a false positive result, which would mean they may have to undergo further treatment they would not need and may lead to anxiety.

There is a shortage of radiologists and immense pressure on staff in radiology departments to deal with the backlog of people waiting for scans. To help reduce the burden on resources and staff, new ways of screening need to be investigated.

Our previous research found that artificial intelligence can be used to identify cancer in mammograms with greater accuracy than radiologists. This highlights the potential for this system to reduce radiologist workload, improve accuracy of results and improve the rate of cancer detection, which this research is exploring.

How will we assess AI in NHS breast screening services? 

We are using AI technology created by Google Health to evaluate how it can be used in NHS breast screening services to support clinicians. There are four stages to this research:

  1. Determine if the AI system in breast screening generates accurate results on NHS images. 

    We are comparing the AI system to radiologist screenings in large, diverse patient populations. This uses historical information from screenings to determine the accuracy and fairness of the AI system.

  2. Safely test the AI system in hospitals (without affecting current standard of care). 

    This will help us design a strategy to introduce the system in two hospitals within St George’s University Hospitals NHS Trust and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and propose a framework for future use in NHS breast screening services.

  3. Assess patient and public perceptions of an AI based mammographic screening tool to improve the quality, efficiency and experience of breast cancer screening. Workshop themes to range from exploring key issues surrounding patient consent in mammography studies, the ethical implications of the use of deidentified data for the purpose of the AIMS study and the design and role of printed and video media to communicate information to the wider public regarding our study.

  4. Examine how radiologists and clinicians interact with the AI system. Using mammograms from 100,000 women across two hospitals in the UK, we are observing how radiologist panels interact with the AI system when used in place of a second radiologist. This allows us to explore the factors that influence the radiologist’s clinical decision-making when reviewing the mammograms and making a diagnosis.

When is it taking place?


Who is included?

Women undergoing routine breast cancer screening (age 50-70) as part of the national breast screening programme, from January 2016 onwards.

Where is the study taking place?

Clinical centres in Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and St George’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Our research partners

This research is a partnership between Imperial College London, Google Health, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, St George’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust.

We’re involving patients in all our original research. We have recruited lay partners who are on our steering committee, and they will be involved in the decision-making, design, and dissemination.

Who is funding the study?

We are funded by the the AI Award which is one of the programmes that make up the NHS AI Lab, led by NHSX and delivered in partnership with the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Read our news story to find out more.

Our research findings

International evaluation of an AI system for breast cancer screening - Nature 2020

Contact details

For more information about the AIMS study, please contact the Clinical Trials Manager – Aminata Sy on