We have already reported artificial intelligence (AI) software that helps doctors detect breast cancer and even found studies that report that AI detects breast cancer better than the average radiologist. Now, Google's DeepMind AI firm has been found to be better at detecting breast cancer than experts.
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Better than radiologists
The study was undertaken by researchers from the U.S. and the U.K. and was published in the journal Nature. The team trained the system to identify breast cancers on mammograms and compared its results with 25,856 mammograms from the U.K. and 3,097 from the U.S.
They found that DeepMind could spot cancers with a similar degree of accuracy to expert radiologists and even better. The system reduced the number of false positive results by 5.7% in the U.S.-based group and by 1.2% in the U.K.-based group.
When it came to false negatives, the system eliminated the number of those incidents by 9.4% in the U.S. group, and by 2.7% in the U.K. group. What's most impressive is that unlike the doctors who had access to patient histories, DeepMind only had access to the most recent mammogram of each patient.
The study did not come without limitations. The majority of the tests were done using the same equipment and the U.S. group included many confirmed breast cancers.
As such, experts are arguing that this is not conclusive proof that the AI system is helpful to radiologists. “AI software is only helpful if it actually moves the dial for the radiologist,” told The Independent Lisa Watanabe, chief medical officer of CureMetrix.
Mozziyar Etemadi, one of the study's co-authors from Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, also told The Independent that although computers have not been “super helpful” so far, “what we’ve shown at least in tens of thousands of mammograms is the tool can actually make a very well-informed decision."