The European Cancer Imaging Initiative (EUCAIM) has achieved, coordinated by the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), a first important milestone in its roadmap towards the creation of a federated European cancer imaging data infrastructure to help healthcare facilities, research institutes and innovators to make the best use of data-driven solutions for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

This initiative launched in December 2022 is part of the European Plan to Fight Cancer and aims to promote innovation and the deployment of digital technologies in cancer research, treatment and care, to achieve clinical decision making, more accurate and faster diagnoses, treatments and predictive medicine for the benefit of cancer patients.

The first version of this digital infrastructure, delivered by the European Federation for CANcer IMages (EUCAIM) project, presents a public catalog of cancer image datasets from the repositories of EU-funded projects related to Artificial Intelligence for Imaging. of Health, as well as a search tool.

Currently, the Cancer Image Europe platform links 40 image datasets from nine cancer types (breast, colon, lung, prostate, rectum, liver, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, neuroblastoma, glioblastoma), for more than 200,000 series of images of approximately 20,000 individuals, as indicated by the UPV in a statement.

A first version of the rules for data providers and users and operational procedures have also been published. Access to data may be requested from data providers in accordance with applicable ethical and data protection standards.

The UPV has coordinated the deployment of this prototype, being responsible – together with the Erasmus hospital in Rotterdam (Netherlands) – for the central node of the infrastructure. The prototype is housed in the premises of the Institute of Instrumentation for Medical Imaging, a joint center of the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the Higher Council for Scientific Research.

The scientific coordination of this infrastructure is held by Dr. Luis Martí Bonmatí, responsible for the clinical area of ​​Image at the La Fe University and Polytechnic Hospital in Valencia. Almost 80 European institutions participate in the project, with significant Spanish and, in particular, Valencian participation.

Ignacio Blanquer, professor at the UPV and head of the central node, pointed out that “today’s achievement is an important step towards the construction of the Cancer Image Atlas that will house more than 60 million anonymous cancer image data from more than 100,000 patients.”

Technological innovation combined with data protection can create a trustworthy framework for researchers, innovators, doctors and patients. Thanks to the new European Cancer Imaging Initiative, researchers will have efficient access to more high-quality data to study and improve understanding of the disease. And innovators will be able to develop and test data-driven solutions for cancer care.

Facilitating the development of data-driven solutions will enable physicians to make more accurate and faster clinical decisions, diagnoses, treatments and predictive medicine, for the benefit of cancer patients. Additionally, the initiative will support data altruism by citizens, who could voluntarily give consent or permission to make the data they generate available, as a way to enrich health data sets.

It is a cross-border, interoperable and secure infrastructure that preserves privacy, making it essential to accelerate innovation in medical research. Therefore, several EU Member States have expressed interest in establishing a European Digital Infrastructure Consortium (EDIC) for the European Cancer Imaging platform under development by the EUCAIM project, having created a working group to further explore this. possibility.

Following the publication of the revised Council Recommendation on Cancer Screening in December 2022, the European Cancer Imaging Initiative will specifically focus on optimizing breast and lung cancer screening programmes.

The initiative has special relevance in breast and lung cancer screening, since images are essential in these tumor detection actions. Prostate cancer screening programs using magnetic resonance imaging are also being developed.

Artificial intelligence has the potential to improve the accuracy and efficiency of lung and breast cancer screening, enabling earlier detection and better outcomes for patients. Thanks to the European Cancer Imaging Platform, researchers and doctors involved in screening actions and programs will be able to jointly explore innovative approaches to the detection and care of lung and breast cancer.

The EUCAIM project will continue to expand the functionalities of the European Cancer Imaging platform. It is expected that by December 2023 the design of the pan-European digital infrastructure will have been completed and collaboration mechanisms will have been established. Data providers will then be able to connect to this new European federated platform.

The first version of the platform will be launched in late 2024 and the final launch is expected by the end of 2025. The digital infrastructure will be fully operational and operational in 2026.