AI better than two radiologists at detecting breast cancer
The research has been conducted by experts from Google Health, DeepMind, Imperial College London, the NHS, and Northwestern University in the US.
A new study conducted by a group of researchers from an international team shows an accurate measurement as compared to humans of breast cancer-related X-ray images by AI.
The researchers used 29,000 mammography images (X-ray images of breasts) to train the AI and found it to be more accurate than human radiologists. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in women but can be treated if detected early.
The team of researchers came from various organisations including Google Health, DeepMind, Imperial College London, the NHS and Northwestern University in the US. The research paper has been published in Journal Nature.
How is breast cancer detected?
In the US, the mammograms are scanned by a single radiologist in order to arrive at a conclusion. In the UK, a woman is generally scanned every three years and her mammogram is checked by two radiologists.
The new AI system has been developed by data taken from both countries. No details about a person were shared with the AI system whereas the radiologists had the history of a patient. The AI detects breast cancer by just looking at the mammogram.
How accurate is AI?
When the breast cancer-related data set was fed to the AI, the results showed a reduction of 5.7 per cent in false positives (as compared to human experts) in the cases taken from US subjects. False positives are the cases when AI incorrectly refers to women for further investigation. When data from the UK was fed, it showed a reduction of 1.2 per cent.
Similarly, when testing for how many times women were incorrectly missed for a further investigation called false negative, the AI showed a reduction of 9.4 per cent for US subjects. It showed a 2.7 per cent reduction in cases related to the UK.
For comparison, Google gave 500 randomly-selected mammograms to six radiologists. But these mammograms also included information related to the patients’ age, breast cancer history, and previous mammograms.
Prof Ara Darzi, report co-author and director of the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Imperial Centre while talking to BBC says, "This went far beyond my expectations. It will have a significant impact on improving the quality of reporting, and also free up radiologists to do even more important things."
What is breast cancer and its symptoms?
More than 1 million people are affected by breast cancer in India every year. The symptoms of the disease include a lump in the breast, bloody discharge from the nipple, and changes in the shape or texture of the nipple or breast. The treatment process includes chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy, and surgery.