Google can now detect breast cancer, better than humans

Google's AI won't replace human doctors anytime soon.

Google’s AI has a new feather in its cap. It has leapfrogged humans in terms of detecting breast cancer before it becomes a tumor. The research paper that was published in Nature revealed that Google is helping doctors by developing artificial intelligence to identify breast cancer.

Google can now detect breast cancer, better than humans
Image Source: Quartz

Shravya Shetty, who co-authored the researcher paper said, “Mammograms are very effective but there’s still a significant problem with false negatives and false positives.”

The New York Times reported that the model that scans X-ray images, which is known as a mammogram, reduces the number of false negatives by a whopping 9.4% – this is considered to be hopeful for a test that currently misses 20% of breast cancers.

Google said in a blog, “In collaboration with colleagues at DeepMind, Cancer Research UK Imperial Centre, Northwestern University and Royal Surrey County Hospital, we set out to see if artificial intelligence could support radiologists to spot the signs of breast cancer more accurately.”

Google’s solution consists of utilizing artificial intelligence. These findings that were conducted over the past two years got published in Nature. It says, “These findings show that our AI model spotted breast cancer in de-identified screening mammograms (where identifiable information has been removed) with greater accuracy, fewer false positives, and fewer false negatives than experts.”

Even though the results were satisfactory, it wasn’t perfect. Researchers found that even though the AI bettered doctors in recognizing breast cancer in maximum cases, there were also incidents where doctors flagged cancer that the AI basically missed. Mozziyar Etemadi, a researcher and another co-author of the paper, said: “Sometimes, all six U.S. readers caught cancer that slipped past the AI and vice versa.” 

The search giant is confident that the method could soon be used in clinics. Daniel Tse, a product manager at Google who also co-authored the paper said, “We’re very excited and encouraged by these results.”

Breast cancer is an ailment that affects far too many women and is the second cause of death, followed by lung cancer. According to research, over 55,000 people in the U.K. are diagnosed with breast cancer each year whereas 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will acquire the condition in their lifetime.


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