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Current Affairs

Google AI model beats humans in detecting breast cancer

Date: 03 January 2020 Tags: Fourth Industrial Revolution

Google is developing artificial intelligence to help doctors identify breast cancer. The model, which scans X-ray images known as mammograms, reduces the number of false negatives by 9.4 percent.



Today, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women, beat out only by lung cancer in its deadliness and overall prevalence. Early detection is the best defense most people have in identifying and treating the disease.



  • While mammograms are the most common detection tool, they miss a large number of cases.

  • Researchers used anonymized mammograms from more than 25,000 women in the UK and 3,000 women in the US and tried to follow the same principles radiologists might follow.

  • The team first trained AI to scan X-ray images, then looked for signs of breast cancer by identifying changes in the breasts of the 28,000 women.

  • They then checked the computer’s guesses against the women's’ actual medical outcomes.

  • Ultimately, they were able to reduce false negatives by 9.4 percent and cut down false positives by 5.7 percent for women in the US.

  • In the UK, the model cut down false negatives by 2.7 percent and reduced false positives by 1.2 percent.

  • The model performs better than an individual radiologist in both the UK and the US.

  • While researchers found that AI outperformed doctors in identifying breast cancer in most cases, there were also instances where doctors flagged cancer that the model originally missed.

  • Google has been trying to frame this project as one that will help radiologists, not replace them. Bringing the two together could strengthen the overall results.