How Artificial Intelligence is Winning the Battle Against Cancer

What if artificial intelligence could fight cancer — and even better than humans? This is not the stuff of science fiction. It is medical reality

In a joint effort between Google and Northwestern Medicine, researchers discovered that a computer can be more effective at detecting cancer than even the best doctors.

How? Researchers inserted a large number of CAT scans onto a single computer. Then, once it got used to reading those images, the researchers realized that the computer had developed a cancer-detecting algorithm, and one, which was even more capable than the expert radiologists. 

The discovery has the potential to save countless lives across the globe. 

Last year alone, there were 19.3 million new cancer cases and almost 10 million cancer deaths. Lung cancer, specifically, is the most tenacious and most deadly. This year, more than 310,000 adults in Europe will be diagnosed with lung cancer. Of all the cancers, it has the lowest 5-year survival rate.

Still, large clinical trials across Europe have shown that chest screening can significantly reduce mortality rates. But, high error rates and limited access to screenings mean that lung cancers usually go undetected and are able to reach advanced stages, making them especially hard to treat.

Early detection, supported by the incorporation of artificial intelligence technologies, could dramatically improve the chances of people’s survival.

Here are a few statistics to consider:

  • Almost 9 in 10 people suffering from lung cancer will survive if they are diagnosed at the earliest stage. But only 1 in 5 people will survive if lung cancer is diagnosed at its most advanced stage.
  • More than 9 in 10 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer at its earliest stage survive for five years. This falls to just 1 in 10 women when the disease is detected in its advanced stage.
  • And almost all women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stage survive for at least five years. 

This is why early detection is so important.  Artificial intelligence can play an essential role where human detection is limited.

Artificial intelligence is increasingly becoming a key feature of modern medicine. In fact, it is transforming the practice. 

Aside from diagnosis, AI assists physicians to make predictions about a patient’s future needs. It also is a gamechanger for more complicated surgeries. AI can now provide doctors real-time surgical intelligence, helping them see around obstacles and align their movements with digitally displayed 3D surgical paths. AI also helps surgeons identify a person’s anatomy, improving their awareness of its precise location in the body, which serves to significantly lower patient risk.

Artificial intelligence is even proving effective in the management of chronic disease. 

In fact, Datawizard has firsthand experience in AI’s contribution in this area. As a partner in the EU’s TeNDER project, we have observed how intelligent technology is empowering patients who suffer from Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease. By incorporating sensors, cameras that capture movement, affective recognition technology and wristbands that record basic vitals, patients can be medically observed from the comfort of their own homes. The system is helping people maintain independence, even as they are monitored 24/7.

Still, for all the benefits that artificial intelligence offers in treating chronic disease and diagnosing cancer, it doesn’t diminish the role of physicians.

At base, artificial intelligence is a tool. It reinforces the cancer screening process, but it doesn’t replace radiologists. Though AI-enhanced surgical tools increasingly guide doctors, they also aren’t substituting surgeons, at least not yet. What we can be certain of, however, is that artificial intelligence will optimize patient care for years to come. 

Sources:

https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2019/05/artificial-intelligence-system-spots-lung-cancer-before-radiologists/

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-symptoms/why-is-early-diagnosis-important