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Google AI outperforms doctors when searching for breast cancer

Breast Cancer AI 16x9
(Image credit: Getty)

Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence that is “capable of surpassing human experts” when predicting breast cancer in patients. The team ran an independent study of six radiologists and found that the AI outperformed all of them when using mammogram images to spot breast cancer. The findings, which were published in the renowned scientific journal Nature, showed that using the AI resulted in “an absolute reduction of 5.7% and 1.2% (USA and UK) in false positives and 9.4% and 2.7% in false negatives.”

Despite this impressive result, don’t expect Google to be replacing your doctor anytime soon. Instead, the researchers have recommended that this new AI should work in conjunction with radiologists to “reduce recall rates and unnecessary biopsies.”

The system could also eliminate the need for double reading — the system used in the UK where two radiologists must confirm a result. According to a 2018 study in British Journal of Cancer, double readings increase cancer detection rates, but also significantly increase false positive rates. 

The project was an international collaboration between researchers at Google Health, Imperial College London and several other universities and organisations in both the USA and UK.