Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in women, but outcomes have been shown to improve if caught and treated early.
This is why many countries around the world have set up breast cancer screening programs, aiming to identify breast cancer at earlier stages of the disease, when treatment can be more successful.
However, interpreting mammograms (breast x-rays) remains challenging, as evidenced by the high variability of experts’ performance in detecting cancer.
Despite the existence of screening programs worldwide, interpretation of these images suffers from suboptimal rates of false positives and false negatives, they write at the Google Deepmind website.
Radiologists miss about 20% of breast cancers in mammograms, the American Cancer Society says, and half of all women who get the screenings over a 10-year period have a false-positive result, writes Reuters.
The study showed the AI system could identify cancers with a similar degree of accuracy to expert radiologists, while reducing the number of false positive results by 5.7% in the U.S.-based group and by 1.2% in the British-based group.
In a separate test, the group pitted the AI system against six radiologists and found it outperformed them at accurately detecting breast cancers.
This is of course not the end product. This AI will get much better and outperform human doctors, with the result of finding more breast cancer cases early and therefore saving the lives of thousands of people.