AI in Breast Cancer Analysis

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Every year, 2 million women across the globe are diagnosed with breast cancer, making it the most prevalent cancer in females worldwide. 

While increased awareness, early detection, and a broader spectrum of treatment options have led to improved survival rates, many patients still grapple with debilitating side effects post-treatment. 

To address this, an international team of medics, scientists, and researchers have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to predict the likelihood of patients experiencing issues after surgery and radiotherapy.

The AI Tool 

Dubbed a revolutionary approach to personalised care, the AI tool for breast cancer analysis is being tested in the UK, France, and the Netherlands. Dr Tim Rattay, a consultant breast surgeon and associate professor at the University of Leicester, explained the tool’s purpose: 

“We are developing an AI tool to inform doctors and patients about the risk of chronic arm swelling after surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer. We hope this will assist doctors and patients in choosing options for radiation treatment and reduce side effects for all patients.”

The AI tool was trained using data from 6,361 breast cancer patients to predict lymphoedema, a painful swelling of the arm, up to three years after surgery and radiotherapy. 

Patients at higher risk could be offered alternative treatments or additional support during and after treatments.

The Power of Predictive Analytics in Healthcare

The AI tool demonstrates the power of predictive analytics in healthcare. It uses 32 different patient and treatment features to make its predictions, including whether or not patients had chemotherapy, whether sentinel lymph node biopsy under the armpit was carried out, and the type of radiotherapy given.

The tool demonstrated an impressive predictive accuracy, with an average of 81.6% of cases correctly predicting lymphoedema and correctly identifying patients who would not develop it in 72.9% of cases. The overall predictive accuracy of the model was 73.4%.

The Future of AI in Breast Cancer Treatment

The research team is also developing a tool to predict other side effects, including skin and heart damage. As part of a clinical trial called the Pre-Act project, they hope to enrol 780 patients who will be followed up for two years.

AI’s Role in Spotting Early Signs of Breast Cancer

AI is also making strides in early detection of breast cancer. A tool named Mia, piloted alongside NHS clinicians, analysed the mammograms of over 10,000 women and successfully flagged all those with symptoms and an extra 11 the doctors did not identify. 

This tool can potentially reduce the waiting time for results from 14 days to three.

The Future of AI in Healthcare

AI’s role in healthcare is rapidly evolving. With its ability to predict side effects, detect early signs of disease, and provide personalised care, AI has the potential to improve treatments, reduce healthcare professionals’ workloads, and offer a more tailored approach to patient care.

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, emphasised the importance of technological innovation in keeping up with the increasing number of cancer cases diagnosed yearly. She stated, “More research will be needed to find the best ways to use this technology to improve outcomes for cancer patients.”

AI’s role in healthcare, particularly in predicting side effects and early detection of diseases like breast cancer, paves the way for a more personalised, efficient and effective approach to patient care. Healthcare technology is exciting, and AI’s potential to revolutionise the industry is immense.