AI used to read breast cancer screenings a safe success

A study has revealed that AI can be used to detect cancer from mammogram screenings and could improve efficiencies and reduce workloads for health workers

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have conducted a study which found that computer-aided detection could stop cancer from mammograms as effectively as two radiologists.

It found that AI use in breast cancer screening is not only safe, but it can almost halve the workload of radiologists, according to the clinical trial.

Findings such as this attest to how AI can be used responsibly and for public good, particularly within the healthcare sector. Not only can cures and treatments start to come out of AI use, but it can also work to improve efficiency for healthcare workers in a time of mass demand.

AI could work to ease the burden on healthcare professionals

AI and machine learning (AI/ML) tools continue to work to revolutionise the healthcare industry. With AI being able to handle huge volumes of medical data faster than a human has the capacity to, it allows health professionals to tailor treatment to the needs of the individual patient.

Research has previously looked at how technology can assist with scans and other ventures within healthcare. Earlier in 2023, the UK’s NHS took a significant step towards revolutionising healthcare with a £21m fund to implement AI within the organisation.

As a result, AI technology acted as a breakthrough in cancer treatment and aimed to reduce waiting times for patients undergoing radiotherapy.

What is different about this research study, however, is that it saw AI-supported screening put in direct comparison with standard care. The trial, published in The Lancet Oncology, involved more than 80,000 women from Sweden with an average age of 54.

Half of the scans were assessed by two radiologists as part of the study, referred to as “standard care,” with the other half assessed by the AI-supported screening tool followed by interpretation by one or two radiologists.

Overall, the study found that 244 women from an AI-supported screening were found to have cancer, compared with 203 women recalled from standard screening.

Plenty of similar healthcare solutions have been developed as a result of AI assistance in 2023. Within the UK, CognoSpeak is an AI tool that helps to identify early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Similarly, scientists used AI to discover a new antibiotic called abaucin that was reported to show useful activity and kill off deadly superbugs.

Lead author of the study Dr Kristina Lång, from Lund University in Sweden, said: “The greatest potential of AI right now is that it could allow radiologists to be less burdened by the excessive amount of reading.

“While our AI-supported screening system requires at least one radiologist in charge of detection, it could potentially do away with the need for double reading of the majority of mammograms, easing the pressure on workloads and enabling radiologists to focus on more advanced diagnostics while shortening waiting times for patients.”



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