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Leveraging AI to improve breast cancer treatment

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September 10, 2019

Leveraging AI to improve breast cancer treatment

A technology that may seem futuristic, artificial intelligence is currently stirring popular interest and increasingly used in a wide range of applications. Making the most of advances, computers are programmed to perform various automated and complex tasks. Here are some well-known examples of artificial intelligence:

  • Artificial vision detects and differentiates between shapes and colours
  • Voice recognition decrypts messages
  • Computer analysis compiles a gigantic amounts of data to predict behaviour or change

Most fields will benefit from artificial intelligence. But what is the place of this technology in medicine and, more particularly, in breast cancer treatment?

AI promises to improve breast cancer treatment​

The use of artificial intelligence in oncology is intended to improve breast cancer screening and assist physicians in choosing the most effective treatment for each patient.

Automating cancer detection

Computers can be programmed to analyze mammograms with a view to detecting lesions that invisible to the naked eye. The result? Earlier detection. Moreover, by comparing the images obtained with those stored in huge databases, computer programs may better identify whether an anomaly is really a tumour or an artifact.

Personalized treatment for each tumour

Very heterogeneous, breast cancers tumours express the different genes that cause the disease to develop. By knowing precisely the characteristics of cancer cells, it is easier to find the right treatment to eradicate them. The task is not a simple one, since a multitude of factors are involved in this analysis. Artificial intelligence is therefore the ideal tool for the task.

By compiling data from thousands of patients on the characteristics of their breast cancers and the impacts of their treatments, AI could create a powerful and accurate algorithm to predict which therapy will be most appropriate for each woman. By taking risks of progression or recurrence into account, physicians will be able to make more informed decisions about the need for chemotherapy or more rigorous follow-up.

Accessibility to these technologies

Artificial intelligence programs are not yet routinely available in oncology, but research in this field is in full swing. The Quebec-based company Imagia offers a promising platform that assists clinical researchers in analysing data. The company has received significant funding to continue its activities. Rapid advances in artificial intelligence are expected and will gradually benefit patients.