Friday February 22, 2019

AI Outwits Doctors at Detecting Skin Cancer

It can be cured if detected early, but many cases are only diagnosed when the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat

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Previous research has shown that obesity and high-fat diets both together and independently increase the risk of pancreatic cancer.
The actress was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. Pixabay

An Artificial Intelligence (AI) system has been found to detect skin cancer more accurately than a group of experienced dermatologists from 17 countries around the world, a study said on Tuesday.

In the experiment, the team of researchers from Germany, France and the US trained a form of AI or Machine Learning known as a deep learning convolutional neural network (CNN) to identify skin cancer by showing it more than 100,000 images of malignant melanomas — the most lethal form of skin cancer — as well as harmless moles.

When its performance was compared with that of 58 international dermatologists, the CNN missed fewer melanomas and misdiagnosed benign moles less often as malignant than the group of dermatologists, showed the findings published in the journal Annals of Oncology.

“The CNN works like the brain of a child. To train it, we showed the CNN more than 100,000 images of malignant and benign skin cancers and moles and indicated the diagnosis for each image,” said first author of the study Professor Holger Haenssle from the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

“Only dermoscopic images were used, that is lesions that were imaged at a 10-fold magnification. With each training image, the CNN improved its ability to differentiate between benign and malignant lesions,” Haenssle added.

Representational image (AI)
Representational image (AI). Pixabay

A CNN is an artificial neural network inspired by the biological processes at work when nerve cells (neurons) in the brain are connected to each other and respond to what the eye sees.

The CNN is capable of learning fast from images that it “sees” and teaching itself from what it has learned to improve its performance — a process known as Machine Learning.

“These findings show that deep learning convolutional neural networks are capable of out-performing dermatologists, including extensively trained experts, in the task of detecting melanomas,” Haenssle said.

The incidence of malignant melanoma is increasing, with an estimated 232,000 new cases worldwide and around 55,500 deaths from the disease each year.

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It can be cured if detected early, but many cases are only diagnosed when the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat.

But despite the promising results from the experiment, the researchers do not envisage that the CNN would take over from dermatologists in diagnosing skin cancers, but that it could be used as an additional aid.

“This CNN may serve physicians involved in skin cancer screening as an aid in their decision whether to biopsy a lesion or not,” Haenssle said. (IANS)

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HPV Vaccination May Bring An End To Cervical Cancer In India by 2070

Combining high uptake of the HPV vaccine and cervical screening could eliminate cervical cancer as a public health hazard in 149 out of 181 countries by 2100 and up to 13 million cases of cervical cancer by 2050.

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Cervical cancer is the fourth-most common cancer among women, with an estimated 570,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2018, of which around 85 per cent occur in less developed nations. Pixabay

Human papillomavirus (HPV) screening and vaccination must be taken up on a war footing in countries like India to prevent 15 million cervical cancer deaths among women by 2050, a Lancet research said.

Causing the second-highest number of deaths among Indian women among cancer variants, cervical cancer, in a majority of cases, is caused by HPV, a group of more than 150 viruses.

The efforts might even result in cervical cancer being eliminated as a public health hazard in India by 2070-79, according to the study, published in The Lancet Oncology journal.

Combining high uptake of the HPV vaccine and cervical screening could eliminate cervical cancer as a public health hazard in 149 out of 181 countries by 2100 and up to 13 million cases of cervical cancer by 2050.

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“Awareness about cervical cancer is extremely poor among common people; that makes containing the disease a challenge,” Anjila Aneja, Director at Fortis La Femme, New Delhi, told IANS. Pixabay

If the high coverage of HPV vaccination and cervical screening cannot be achieved globally, over 44 million women could be diagnosed with cervical cancer in the next 50 years with two-thirds of these cases and an additional estimated 15 million deaths, would occur in countries with low and medium levels of development.

“More than two thirds of cases prevented would be in countries with low and medium levels of human development like India, Nigeria, and Malawi, where there has so far been limited access to HPV vaccination or cervical screening,” said lead author Professor Karen Canfell from the Cancer Council New South Wales in Australia.

However, large disparities exist in cervical screening and HPV vaccination coverage among countries.

“Awareness about cervical cancer is extremely poor among common people; that makes containing the disease a challenge,” Anjila Aneja, Director at Fortis La Femme, New Delhi, told IANS.

“While societal barriers prevent women from seeking medical help in advance, women are forced to come out at a later stage when the disease has reached an advanced stage,” she said.

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Screening and broad-spectrum HPV vaccines could potentially prevent up to 84-90 per cent of cervical cancers, the study said. Pixabay

However, Canfell says that despite the enormity of the problem, their findings suggest that “global elimination is within reach with tools that are already available, provided that both high coverage of HPV vaccination and cervical screening can be achieved.

Cervical cancer is the fourth-most common cancer among women, with an estimated 570,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide in 2018, of which around 85 per cent occur in less developed nations.

Screening and broad-spectrum HPV vaccines could potentially prevent up to 84-90 per cent of cervical cancers, the study said.

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“Diagnostic tests such as the pap smear are effective in identifying cancerous tendencies.

“However, these tests are available with a limited number of providers and largely within the cities. This makes screening sporadic and leaves out women who live in rural areas,” Aneja added. (IANS)