In a new study, researchers found that a new artificial intelligence (AI) model can detect breast cancer from routine scans with greater accuracy than human experts.
This finding may lead to a breakthrough in the fight against the disease globally.
The research was conducted by a team at Google Health.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women, with more than two million new diagnoses last year alone.
Regular screening is very important in detecting the earliest signs of the disease in patients who show no obvious symptoms.
Women over 50 are advised to get a mammogram every three years, the results of which are analyzed by two independent experts.
But result interpretation can have errors, and a small percentage of all mammograms either return a false positive, which means they misdiagnose a healthy patient as having cancer, or false negative, which means they miss the disease as it spreads.
In the study, the team trained an AI to detect cancer in breast scans from thousands of women in Britain and the United States.
The images had already been reviewed by doctors in real life but unlike in a clinical setting, the machine had no patient history to inform its diagnoses.
The team found that their AI model could predict breast cancer from the scans with a similar accuracy level to expert radiographers.
Further, the AI showed a reduction in the proportion of cases where the cancer was incorrectly identified —5.7% in the US and 1.2% in Britain, respectively.
It also reduced the percentage of missed diagnoses by 9.4% among US patients and by 2.7% in Britain.
The team hopes in the near future this technology could support patients to get the best outcome from whatever diagnostics they’ve had.
One author of the study is Scott Mayer McKinney.
The study is published in Nature.
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