A research team at Newcastle University in the UK and Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will initiate a 250-patient study after research showed how AI can improve the treatment and outcomes of laryngeal cancer. 

Amar Rajgor and his team at Newcastle University used pre-biopsy, contrast-enhanced CT scans from 72 advanced larynx cancer patients, analysing them with AI radiomics software called LIFEx. Radiomics is a field of medical study that involves the extraction and analysis of quantitative features from medical images such as CT scans, MRI scans, or PET scans.   

The research, published in the Journal of Laryngology & Otology, identified two important imaging markers: shape compactness and grey level non-uniformity (GLNU). If these markers are high, it indicates a patient has a greater chance of dying sooner. The risk of death nearly tripled with an increase in shape compactness and doubled with a rise in GLNU. 

Medical Device Network spoke to Amar Rajgor, who outlined the study: “The other thing we did is look at clinical factors such as smoking status, their age, the treatment they had, and we accounted for that in our model.

“What we showed is when we add radiomic markers, our model performs much better at determining which patients are going to survive compared to just using the traditional factors that we use as doctors.” 

Advanced larynx cancer has poor outcomes, with many patients having to undergo a laryngoscopy – a procedure where the whole voice box is removed. According to a report on GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center, there will be 338,790 cases of head and neck cancer, which includes laryngeal, in the eight major markets (8MM: UK, US, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Japan, and Urban China) in 2030.  

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Rajgor emphasised the importance of ensuring patients receive the correct type of treatment so that their quality of life is maintained: “The complex thing about larynx cancer is the treatments are so life-changing. With larynx cancer you are removing the voice box, so there’s quality of life that we’re going to have to think about how to integrate that into the patient group.”  

Following an award from the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), Rajgor said the team is now planning a multi-centre prospective study which will enrol more than 250 patients. The study will focus on survival and observe which patients respond to chemotherapy and radiotherapy within the group. 

He explained that in the future, radiomics scores could be part of a patient’s oncology treatment plan: “Hopefully at some point, we’ll be able to say, well, this is their radiomics score. What does that mean? What treatment should they receive? That’s going to be the next steps,” concluded Rajgor.