Artificial intelligence beats experts at detecting cervical cancers

Why Everyone Around You Seems to Be Getting Cancer

"When this algorithm is combined with advances in HPV vaccination, emerging HPV detection technologies, and improvements in treatment, it is conceivable that cervical cancer could be brought under control, even in low-resource settings", said Maurizio Vecchione, executive vice president of Global Good, in the release.

For instance, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer worldwide among women, with 528,000 new cases and 266,000 deaths in 2012, according to International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC), every year more than 13,000 women in the USA develop cervical cancer and about 4,000 women die from it.

The team says the AI model is faster, cheaper and more accurate than current measures, and could expand to countries that have limited access to advanced screening methods. "African-American women were 50% less likely to be up-to-date on cervical cancer screening than white women in 2016", said Kathy MacLaughlin, MD, family medicine specialist, Mayo Clinic, and the study's lead author, in a statement.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cervical cancer is preventable and has declined over the last 40 years, yet almost 13,000 women are diagnosed each year. Moreover, increasing number of government initiatives such as screening programmes to increase awareness about cancer is also expected to fuel growth of the colposcope market.

Another cancer precursor is called adenocarcinoma in situ, which is when abnormal cells are found in the glandular tissue that lines the uterus and cervix. It's no longer the leading cancer caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).

According to Mark Schiffman, who is from the National Cancer Institute in the USA, said in a statement that the findings would show that this deep learning algorithm which can use the images that are collected during the routine cervical cancer screening. The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program is there to help women without health insurance.

Importantly, the automated visual evaluation identified precancer with greater accuracy than a human expert review or conventional cytology, the researchers said. This approach requires a clinician to apply dilute acetic acid to the cervix and inspect the cervix with the naked eye, looking for "aceto whitening", which could indicate disease.

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They used comprehensive datasets to "train" a deep, or machine, learning algorithm to recognise patterns in complex visual inputs, such as medical images. An AUC of 0.5 means it's about the same as guessing and an AUC of 1.0 means flawless accuracy.

Pap tests also performed worse, achieving an AUC of 0.71.

MacLaughlin said that healthcare providers need to be more proactive in reaching out to patients to make sure they are being screened on a timely basis.

Catching these changes early, when they're still easily treatable, could help save the lives of many women, said study leader Dr. Mark Schiffman and colleagues.

For the future, the researchers hope to put the program onto a cellphone so that any woman in any country would be able to take a photo of their cervix and get their results back quickly.

Roughly 12,000 women in the US are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. In the U.S., it's one-tenth of that.

This study adds to the growing body of evidence that demonstrates the potential for deep learning and artificial intelligence to enhance and accelerate the performance of human clinicians.

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