New Google AI System Improves Breast Cancer Detection via X-Ray Scans

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In This Article:

  • The research into this use of AI has been in the works for two years.
  • The risk of false negatives and positives in the US alone fell by over 5% with the use of AI.

Google’s AI May Help with Breast Cancer Screening

Millions of people around the world suffer from various stages of breast cancer, and the epidemic has become so severe that 1 out of every 8 women in the United States will end up developing this condition in their lifetime. With statistics like this, it shouldn’t be surprising that the use of digital mammography, which can detect breast cancer, is a common screening tool that accounts for 42 million exams annually in the UK and the US.

Even with the widespread use of this x-ray imaging, it still is difficult to spot and diagnose breast cancer with this method alone. Many individuals are falsely diagnosed or falsely declared cancer-free with these tests, and the inaccuracy can cause major problems in how effectively and quickly someone is treated.

In the last two years, Google has been working on an artificial intelligence protocol that would help with the detection of breast cancer more effectively, as reported by The Next Web. This method used a combination of assistance from Royal Surrey County Hospital, Northwestern University, Cancer Research UK Imperial Centre, and DeepMind. With anonymous data collected from the mammograms of over 90,000 women in the UK and US, the researchers were able to train the AI, commencing a test with de-identified data of about 28,000 women between the two regions.

Based on the test, AI managed to reduce the risk of false negatives in the US by 5.7%, while the reduction was a bit smaller in the UK at 1.2%. Furthermore, false positives were decreased by 9.4% and 2.7% in the US and UK, respectively, demonstrating the higher success rate of AI over doctors.

Through the next few years, the group aims to keep improving its accuracy to eventually be a tool that hospitals can use during live detection of breast cancer. While the company has used imaging to help with the diagnosis of breast cancer in this new research, it isn’t the first time that Google’s AI team has taken this task on. In 2018, they released a program that could scan the eyes to find potential heart disease.

Last year, another model used AI to detect lung cancer. The efforts of Google are working to position their teams as a necessary part of the medical community in the coming years.

The full report on Google’s discoveries and how their artificial intelligence works can be found here.

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