The Cancer Research UK and Cambridge University has adapted a computer programme used for spotting distant galaxies to help them assess the aggressiveness of breast tumours.
This novel approach has led to an automated checking system for checking tumour samples.
It could replace some of the time-consuming process of using microscopes.
Experts expect it to help speed up research to develop more targeted treatment for the most common form of cancer in the UK, which is diagnosed in almost 50,000 women a year.
To test the new approach, researchers used the computer system to measure the levels of proteins linked to more aggressive cancers across more than 2,000 tumour samples.
The results suggested it was as effective as the manual approach, and faster.
It is now being tested on 20,000 patients, according to the research published in the British Journal of Cancer.