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Google AI beats doctors in detecting breast cancer

What comes to mind when you think about artificial intelligence (AI)? Most likely a Hollywood sci-fi thriller like “Terminator.”

But AI is actually being used for more important things than just entertainment these days. For example, you can incorporate AI programs to help you learn a new language. Tap or click here to find out how AI can help you learn how to speak foreign languages.

Even more impressive, now AI is being used in the medical field. You won’t believe just how good the technology is getting at detecting things like breast cancer.

Technology can help save lives

According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in 2019. And that’s just in the U.S.

Detecting cancer early is the best way to overcome the disease. That’s why it’s important to get screened annually. Around 33 million mammograms are performed in the U.S. each year in an attempt to detect the disease early.

Related: Artificial intelligence could help you avoid the flu

The problem is, sometimes mammograms are misread by humans and they either don’t see cancer or think they see cancer when it’s not really there.

It’s actually pretty bad. The American Cancer Society said about 20% of breast cancers are missed when mammograms are checked by humans, and false positives are common. This can result in patients being called back for more testing, and sometimes that includes a biopsy.

Now for the good news: A study published this week by shows that artificial intelligence may be more accurate at reading mammograms and spotting breast cancer than doctors.

Google Health used its DeepMind algorithm in conjunction with medical researchers to train a computer to interpret images taken during the mammogram process. The computer was used to check X-rays on patients where the diagnosis was already known, and it was able to outperform humans.

On scans from tests taken in the U.S., AI was able to reduce false negatives by 9.4%. That’s when a patient actually has breast cancer, but it wasn’t discovered by humans.

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It was also able to lower false positives by 5.7%. That’s when a human sees an abnormality in the X-ray but there is no cancer present.

A Google Health rep told the BBC, “Our team is really proud of these research findings, which suggest that we are on our way to developing a tool that can help clinicians spot breast cancer with greater accuracy.”

This AI system is still in the testing stage but is expected to be available to hospitals worldwide in the near future. It’s good to know AI technology is being used for important things like medical research and testing like this, and not just video games. Keep checking with for future updates.

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