TechnologyEarly detection of breast cancer: the advances of AI

Early detection of breast cancer: the advances of AI


The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in medicine accelerates the early detection of diseases, as well as improves medical practice in general. This is about the use of robotic algorithms capable of self-learning.

These algorithms analyze a large amount of data in a short time and with precision. In this way, they identify risk situations for patients that a doctor could ignore. Thus, it is not an exaggeration to say that AI technology can revolutionize medicine.

The use of AI appears on the horizon as an invaluable aid, for doctors. Since achieving a timely diagnosis of cancer has been, for years, one of the greatest concerns of medicine. Especially breast cancer. This has already surpassed lung cancer in the number of patients, since it is estimated that more than 2 million people suffer from it each year.

The contribution of AI to the early detection of breast cancer

The Spanish Association Against Cancer recommends that women have a mammogram every 2 years, starting at age 50. According to statistics, this tracking allows detecting incipient cases of the disease, to treat them on time and reduce fatal outcomes.

One of the problems with mammograms is that their interpretation depends on the radiologist reading the study. When dealing with human beings, it is possible to err in this interpretation. While this hurdle can be partially remedied, with a new mammogram and a more accurate report, time has passed. In other words, early detection has been delayed and the approach to the pathology is complicated.

The AI, developed by German startup Vara, is being postulated as an aid to radiologists who interpret mammograms. It is not a technology that comes to supplant doctors, but to support them.

The scientific study that validated Vara’s AI

The scientific journal Digital Health of The Lancet published a paper Leibig et al in which the application of AI Vara in Germany is analyzed. With a database of more than one million patients, the technology had the opportunity to test it in real conditions.

Different algorithms were set up for artificial intelligence to review mammograms for signs of cancer. If the AI ​​found a sign consistent with malignancy in an image classified as normal, the system alerted the radiologist to review the report.

The final result revealed that the sensitivity in the diagnosis, when compared with the radiologists who only interpreted the studies without AI, increased by 2.6%. This means that the use of Vara’s algorithms increases the capacity for early detection of breast cancer.

Early detection with AI is the future

Vara’s AI, tested in the real world of medicine, shows the importance of technology in health. By incorporating algorithms to help doctors, errors are reduced.

A scientific study published in European Radiology had already confirmed that breast cancer was better diagnosed with the support of AI. The algorithms, according to the authors of the paper, reduce the time that elapses between the silent onset of the disease and early detection with mammograms.

Buying time is key in cancers. Those who have cancer detected early live longer after treatment and do so with a better quality of life.

Health systems understand that this is the future. Thus, there are already hospitals interested in applying the same mechanism, first as a trial, then as an added tool for professionals.

Technology does not replace doctors

Early detection of breast cancer with Vara’s AI is not just in the hands of algorithms. There is always a medical review to make the final corroboration.

An analysis of this German experience underscores this: artificial intelligence, by itself, would also have errors. In fact, the combination of human knowledge with the power of technology results in more precise and specific results. Hence, it should be noted that AI does not supplant health professionals. On the contrary, it supports them to progress and to provide better care to their patients.

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