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Researchers from Ulster University have secured over €550,000 as part of a €3.3 million European-wide project aiming to transform the decision-making process for doctors in diagnosing and treating breast cancer, the most common cancer in women worldwide.

Funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research programme, a multi-disciplinary team of Ulster University researchers in computer science, health sciences and psychology will develop a pioneering medical image analysis tool. The tool will extract important features from clinical images, such as mammograms, to assist breast tissue and tumour characterization. This will provide vital information for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Ulster University researchers will also contribute to the development of a decision support system that can help doctors to make personalised treatment recommendations based on previous comparable cases and the patient's genetic information.

The University research forms part of the Decision Support and Information Management System for Breast Cancer (DESIREE) project, which is being delivered by an international consortium of clinicians, healthcare professionals, companies and technology experts. The project aims to provide web-based software for the personalised, collaborative and multidisciplinary management of breast cancer by specialised breast units, from diagnosis to therapy and follow-up.

Professor Hui Wang from Ulster University said: "With an estimated one in twelve women developing breast cancer before the age of 75, the early diagnosis and treatment of the disease is vital when it comes to saving lives.  

"Doctors are dealing with huge amounts of patient data accumulated as a result of breast cancer diagnostic tests and treatments. The DESIREE project aims to develop a clinical decision support system that will help breast cancer units to house information all in one place, and take informed decisions based on an integrated data analysis.

"The aim is not to replace biopsy procedures or the specialist skills of doctors, but to support their interpretation of clinical data, medical images and tests. Ulster University's involvement in the DESIREE project will ensure our world leading expertise can contribute to best practice in breast cancer units across Europe."