I’ve come to understand and respect the anxieties felt by women concerning breast cancer examinations. First, the very reason they’re having the examination. Second, the harmful levels of radiation the mammogram will expose their bodies to, during the test. Third, the accuracy of the test itself.
In a report published in The Lancet Journal on August 1st, a breast cancer breakthrough was announced, that AI can significantly reduce the anxiety regarding test accuracy. In 2021 and 2020, 80,000 Swedish women had their mammogram scans checked by radiologists. 40,000 of these were first read by AI, the rest were examined by humans. AI detected 20% more cancer tissue that the human evaluation.
In more personal terms, AI detected cancer in 6 in 1000 women. Highly experienced radiologists detected cancer in 5 in 1000 women.
And a further benefit was revealed. The mammogram reading workload will now be halved. Individually, this means fewer mistakes due to fatigue or rushing to meet procedural deadlines. When you look at the broader numbers, this means that twice the amount of women can be tested over the course of, say, a year. That’s a breast cancer breakthrough on its own.
No more false positive readings
If you have been through the trauma of needing to check for breast cancer, or are well versed in the science of mammography, the following point will be of extreme importance to you. At no time did the Swedish researchers for this project suspect that the AI was too sensitive, ringing false alarm bells. This has been a perennial problem in diagnosis for as long as there has been mammography. No increase in these false figures were recorded at all.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in countries that can return a reliable source of records. It is also the fifth biggest killer in the cancer pantheon.
Let’s hope this latest news is one giant leap for womankind.
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