A trained radiologist assisted by artificial intelligence was able to spot 20% more breast cancers in mammogram screenings without any increase in false positives, a new study showed.
Pitting the man-machine team against two trained radiologists, the authors believe it’s the first randomized controlled trial demonstrating the effectiveness of AI-assisted breast cancer screening.
The study found that out of 80,000 mammogram screenings done in Sweden, the human-AI pairing was able to identify breast cancer in 6 out of 1,000 women, compared to a rate of 5 in 1,000 for the two radiologists, corresponding to a 20% increase.
Yet the scientist felt the AI was not overly sensitive and didn’t contribute to any unusually high rate of false positives.
While this won’t mean that you’ll be screened by robots any time soon, the authors believe the study represents that AI detection could be a safe and effective way to increase the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of breast cancer screenings.
“The greatest potential of AI right now is that it could allow radiologists to be less burdened by the excessive amount of reading,” study co-author Dr. Kristina Lång, an associate professor of radiology diagnostics from Lund University in Sweden, told CNN.
One of the reasons that Dr. Lång mentions the burden of reading is that the human within the human-AI pairing had their workload reduced by 44% over the course of the study.
Early detection of breast cancer, as in the case with most cancers, can increase the survival rate significantly. Routine mammograms are recommended as women age, and currently the rate of this cancer is increasing. This would suggest that the work per radiologist will only increase over the years as average age of the Western population continues to rise.
GNN has previously reported that AI has been used to detect cancers in chest X-rays at least as well as trained radiologists. The AI tool identified abnormal chest X-rays with a 99.1% sensitivity rate
The editorial on the topic praised the potential to take care of 7.8% of all the normal readings for the radiologists, one of the key findings of the study. It suggeted the AI to be more like a labor-saving device.
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CNN also quoted radiologists as saying that AI was a time-saving tool and not a threat to their job security.
One thing which everyone agrees with however, is that if indeed the computer mind is meant to be a labor-saving invention rather than a life-saving invention, it needs to be thoroughly tested to ensure that lives are not being risked simply to reduce the workload of radiology departments.
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