An artificial intelligence programme has been developed which can detect breast cancer from mammograms better than experts, a study has revealed.
New research has found that an AI system can identify cancer in breast screening mammograms with fewer incorrect diagnoses (false positives) and fewer missed cases (false negatives) than radiologists.
There are hopes that the system could help with breast cancer diagnoses in the future, but there are no plans for it to be used yet as further testing still needs to take place. Currently, one in seven women in the UK develop breast cancer in their lifetimes.
The programme was developed by Google Health in collaboration with DeepMind, Cancer Research UK Imperial Centre, Northwestern University, and Royal Surrey County Hospital.
Researchers said that the AI model was trained and tuned on anonymised mammograms from more than 76,000 women in the UK and more than 15,000 women in the US to see if it could learn to spot signs of breast cancer. It was then tested on a separate data selection of more than 25,000 women in the UK and over 3,000 women in the US.
The study found that the AI system produced a 1.2% reduction in false positives, where a mammogram is reported as abnormal when no cancer is present, and 2.7% reduction of false negatives, when the scan is reported as normal even though breast cancer is present, in the UK.
It said that while human experts had access to patient histories and prior mammograms when making screening decisions, the AI system only processed the most recent mammogram with no extra information and “compared favourably”.
The team said that the latest study, published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, “set the stage” for the model to potentially support radiologists performing breast cancer screenings.
Currently in the UK, it takes 10 years to train as a radiologist and at least two assess mammograms.
Should the AI come to be used in hospitals, mammograms could be assessed 24-hours a day, but decisions would still be overseen by radiologists.
Source: ITV News 2nd January 2020