Google creates AI to help doctors find breast cancer in patients

According to the American Cancer Society, mammograms generally fail to find one in five breast cancers.

“Physicians can struggle to read some mammograms when the breast tissue is dense,” said Mount Sinai’s Chief of Breast Imaging, Dr. Laurie Margolies. 

According to Dr. Margolies, more fibrous tissue can obscure tumors from doctors. But now, new technology is helping doctors find that hidden 20 percent of breast cancers.

“I think we’re excited about empowering radiologists with these tools, and hoping they become ubiquitous,” said Google Software Engineer Scott McKinney. 

McKinney helped design a program that uses artificial intelligence to find tumors in mammograms.

According to a study published in the journal “Nature,” Google’s AI identified nine percent more cancer in screenings than its human counterparts, reducing false positives by nearly six percent. 


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“Using these tools allows clinicians to have significantly more free time to concentrate on what we all went to medical school for, which is to actually take care of patients,” said Dr. Mozziyar Etemadi.

Dr. Margolies says that she expects artificial intelligence to transform all of healthcare in the future, but especially radiology. 

One in eight women are at risk of getting breast cancer in their lives. Doctors perform 35 million mammograms every year, requiring massive computing power to combine and analyze the images. 

Researchers also found instances in which all six participating radiologists found the cancer, while Google’s algorithm did not, suggesting similar programs might one day exist to supplement and not replace the human component.