Google AI tool can detect breast cancer better than doctors — study

Google AI tool can detect breast cancer better than doctors
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The Google artificial intelligence (AI) tool can detect breast cancer better than doctors, according to a US study, published in the journal Nature.

Google’s artificial intelligence analyzed mammogram images from thousands of women in the US and the UK. Findings suggest that Google AI traced cancer more accurately than six expert radiologists who worked on 500 random cases.

The study, funded by the tech giant, investigated almost 29,000 mammogram scans. This resulted in the decline of false negatives, or tests erroneously considered normal even though cancer is present, by 9.4 percent in the US and 2.7 percent in the UK.

Published in the journal Nature, the software’s review was conducted by researchers from Google Health, Northwestern Medicine, and Imperial College London.

According to Google Health, the research “sets the stage for future applications where the model could potentially support radiologists performing breast cancer screenings”. However, they point out that more research and regulatory approval must be held to emphasize how the technology could improve patient care.

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Researchers affirm that AI could positively contribute to the accuracy of mammograms, considered as the most common method of screening for breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society notes that mammograms overlook roughly one in five breast cancers and that erroneous test results can lead to problems for patients. Moreover, it is stated that a false positive can cause anxiety or costly additional testing, while false negatives can make women think they are cancer-free when the truth is not.

Google Health reported that researchers trained Google’s AI program with mammograms from more than 76,000 women in the UK and more than 15,000 in the US. Furthermore, Google emphasized that their AI performed better than doctors even with less information than human experts.

The study serves as Google’s latest bid to apply its technologies for health purposes despite the privacy issues surrounding the technology. These issues include Google’s acquisition of the health-tracking company Fitbit that earned a case under the US Department of Justice due to data privacy concerns.

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