Artificial intelligence in healthcare: its use in breast cancer detection shows promise

The uses of artificial intelligence in healthcare are revolutionizing the field. The most recent study carried out showed that detection carried out by AI is just as effective as that carried out by radiologists.

Although this discovery does not imply that this technology can already be implemented, it is a breakthrough for the development of future tools. The objective is not to replace the work of radiologists, but to complement and reduce their work.


What did the research on the use of artificial intelligence in breast cancer detection consist of?

There were two investigations related to the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare with respect to breast cancer detection. In one of them, the results of which were published in the prestigious journal Lancet Oncology, the same scans that the radiologists had observed were evaluated. The research involved more than 80,000 women and sought to establish whether artificial intelligence tools were capable of accurately diagnosing breast cancer.

Another more recent study, conducted in Sweden, showed something more interesting. Half of the comparisons were made directly by the AI, which evaluated the mammograms and then interpreted by a professional. That is, not on the basis of the radiologists’ diagnoses, but the AI alone made the evaluations, which were then reviewed by the professionals. Another group in the same investigation was evaluated only by radiologists.

What was demonstrated were the important benefits of the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare. On the one hand, it was proven that the use of these tools allows earlier detection of breast cancer. This improves the prognosis of patients and thus reduces mortality. In addition, the time required to perform the evaluations is reduced.

In the case of the study conducted in Sweden, the support of the AI tool allowed 41 more cancer diagnoses to be made. The false positive rate was similar in both groups and there was less reading work by the radiologists.

While final results will be available in a few years, the preliminary results are promising. The use of AI was shown to be safe, at least to support radiologists, both to reduce workload and to assist them in early detection.


What is the scope of this research on the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare?


Although the results are very preliminary, this research shows the potential of the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare. According to Kristina Lång, from Lund University in Sweden and the lead author of the study, the greatest potential of AI is that it could allow radiologists to feel less overwhelmed in the number of readings they have to perform. This would allow professionals to focus on more advanced diagnostics.

Dr. Katharine Halliday, president of the Royal College of Radiologists agreed, stating that it will maximize radiologists’ efficiency, support decision making and help prioritize the most urgent cases.

Advances in artificial intelligence are occurring in different fields and healthcare is no exception. Although it is still under development, it is a great discovery and could be revolutionary in this field.

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