How AI can help detect breast cancer early, boost treatment outcome

February 1, 2024
The use of artificial intelligence (AI) renews hope in significantly enhancing cancer detection in the early phase

New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) The use of artificial intelligence (AI) renews hope in significantly enhancing cancer detection in the early phase, with the potential to transform oncological treatment, said cancer experts on Thursday.

The traditional approach to diagnosing cancer primarily revolved around biopsy, histological examinations under microscopes, and imaging tests such as MRI, CT, and PET scan.

With these traditional approaches, the interpretation of imaging results could vary among professionals, and specific diagnostic procedures can be invasive or uncomfortable.

However, AI systems, especially those using deep learning techniques, can analyse medical images with staggering accuracy. Trained on vast public domain cancer data sets, AI can detect minute anomalies often missed by the human eye, reducing false negatives.

Using large sets of patient data, AI can potentially identify patients at higher risk for specific types of cancer, such as breast and skin cancer, because of family history, obesity, exposure to workplace hazards, or other health factors, allowing for early screenings.

“Use of AI in oncology is helping pathologists diagnose cancer much faster which is helping doctors to make personalised and patient centric cancer care in India. AI is also helping in radiation therapy as it is making treatment algorithms much faster and much quicker,” Dr. Vineet Nakra, radiation oncologist at Max Super Speciality Hospital, told IANS.

“It is also helping a lot in patient outreach programmes like remote consultations and is also helping us a lot in analysing patients appointments and cancer patient flow for a doctor. As India has limited infrastructure and has a high cancer burden, AI is helping doctors spend less time on computers and documentation, empowering them to diagnose and treat more cancer patients,” he added.

AI can significantly advance progress towards delivering exceptionally precise and comprehensive information on disease progression and therapeutic benefits at an unprecedented scale.

“Use of AI to detect breast cancer early will greatly increase the cure rate in India. AI has many distinct advantages over prior technologies. It continuously improves when trained on enormous datasets, making it both more accurate than prior methods and enabling it to distinguish subtleties across demographics, age, race, etc,” Dr Ashish Gupta, Chief Oncologist, Unique Hospital Cancer Center, Delhi who is heading Cancer Mukt Bharat Campaign in India, told IANS.

“One of the most promising developments is the rise of AI-enabled tests that can simultaneously prognosticate how tumours will progress and predict treatment benefits. These tests use unique deep-learning algorithms that assess digital images from patient biopsies and couple them with the patient’s clinical data. Clinicians can then take this information and build a personalised treatment plan,” he added.

AI can also serve as a conduit for increased communication between patients and clinicians by positioning patients at the centre of decision making about their care. By providing patients with more information about their illness, it is, therefore, increasing confidence in their treatment plan.



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