A new artificial intelligence (AI) model has been developed by scientists which may be able to predict if an aggressive form of breast cancer will spread or not.

The model is able to detect changes in the lymph nodes of women with triple negative breast cancer.

Lymph nodes are small structures within the body that help filter cancer cells and fight infection

One of the first places breast cancer can spread to is the lymph nodes under the arm on the same side as the cancer.

If that happens that patients are likely to need more intensive treatment.

The researchers said the ability to detect changes in the lymph nodes could help doctors plan treatment, as well as give patients peace of mind about the likelihood of triple negative breast cancer spreading.

Bicester Advertiser: Lymph nodes are one of the first places breast cancer can spread toLymph nodes are one of the first places breast cancer can spread to (Image: PA)

What else was found out about the AI model?

For the study, published in The Journal of Pathology, the researchers tested their AI model on more than 5,000 lymph nodes donated by 345 patients to biobanks such as the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank.

The model was able to establish the likelihood of breast cancer spreading to other organs.

The team also found the AI model was able to make this prediction by simply analysing the immune responses in the lymph nodes, even when the breast cancer cells had not spread to the organs.

As part of the next steps, the researchers are hoping their AI model will be tested in clinical trials.

Dr Anita Grigoriadis, who led the research at the Breast Cancer Now Unit at King’s College London, said: “We’re planning to test the model further at centres across Europe to make it even more robust and precise.

“The transition from assessing tissue on glass slides under a microscope to using computers in the NHS is gathering pace.

“We want to leverage this change to develop AI-powered software based on our model for pathologists to use to benefit women with this hard-to-treat breast cancer.”

Around one in seven, or 15%, of all breast cancers in the UK are triple negative, with more than 8,000 cases a year.