AI could be better than doctors at detecting breast cancer, study finds

Studies in Hungary and other parts of Europe have proven AI to be effective in identifying breast cancer in mammograms like the one pictured above.
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  • Experts debate the most effective uses of artificial intelligence as the technology develops.
  • One of the most beneficial use cases to date has been the technology’s ability to identify cancer, the NYT reported.
  • Studies in Hungary and other parts of Europe have found it just as capable as humans.

The ever-growing wave of artificial intelligence technology continues to expand in the field of medicine, as several clinics around the world are beginning to experiment with AI to help doctors detect breast cancer.

Hungary was one of the biggest and early adopters of the technology, as at least five hospitals or clinics that perform thousands of breast cancer exams a year have used AI programs since 2021, according to the New York Times. The success of using AI to detect cancer in Hungarian clinics has inspired doctors in England, Scotland and Finland to also experiment with the technology, according to the Times.

In a study published last year that painted a picture of an AI program’s ability to identify breast cancer in 250,000 scans, the technology was found to be as effective, if not more so, than a human radiologist. , and was also able to read scans faster overall.

The study concluded that the integration of technologies in the medical field could reduce the workload of radiologists by having an automated system capable of providing a second opinion quickly and accurately.

Companies have been developing such programs for years, as existing artificial intelligence technologies become increasingly capable of more complex tasks. Insider previously reported on programs created by Google that were able to sometimes outperform doctors while still in development in 2020.

A doctor who spoke to The Times said AI systems could help prevent human error caused by fatigue, as human radiologists could miss life-threatening cancer during a CT scan while working long hours. hours.

Another told The Times he had been shocked by the effectiveness of AI programs after presenting the software with some of the toughest cases of his career – including cases in which other radiologists had missed signs. of cancer during a scan – and the program correctly identified. cancer every time.

However, several doctors and AI experts have said that Times AI technology will never replace doctors, but rather will be used to supplement care, such as having one or two doctors evaluate scans to look for a cancer and then using an AI system to double-check anything. they may have missed.

“An AI-plus-doctor should replace the doctor alone, but an AI shouldn’t replace the doctor,” Peter Kecskemethy, a computer scientist and co-founder of a company that develops AI programs helping doctors, told The Times.

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