Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Artificial intelligence spots more skin cancers than experts

Melissa Porter | 31 May, 2018, 03:56

Artificial intelligence is better than doctors at spotting skin cancer, a study has shown. The computer is made up of an artificial network of nerves that mimic the processes of the brain as it computes information taken in from the eyes.

The doctors were shown 100 images of skin lesions and asked to make a diagnosis, using their judgment about whether it was a malignant melanoma or benign mole. One set of 300 images was built to exclusively test the performance of the CNN. "However, the CNN, which was still working exclusively from the dermoscopic images with no additional clinical information, continued to outperform the physicians' diagnostic abilities", said professor Holger Haenssle, author of the study and senior managing physician of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

Such an AI system could, according to the researchers, result in "less unnecessary surgery" as it misdiagnosed fewer benign moles as malignant melanoma.

Each year, the scientists said around 232,000 new melanoma cases are recorded with 55,000 deaths due to the disease in the entire world.

The CNN has detected 95% of skin cancers, while human dermatologists detected only 86.6%. Nineteen percent said they had between two to five years' experience, and 29 percent had less than two years' experience. "However, the CNN, which was still working exclusively from the dermoscopic images with no additional clinical information, continued to out-perform the physicians' diagnostic abilities". It can be cured if detected early, but many cases are only diagnosed when the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat. However, before such an artificial intelligence system finds broad clinical application, some technical problems, such as the difficulty of correctly depicting certain melanomas in areas such as the fingers and toes or the skull, system to "read" the images.

The researchers said AI technology is a useful and easy way to detect skin Melanomas (cancer cells) from normal cells.

However, they also admitted that there is much more work to be done to implement this AI technology safely in routine clinical care.

The researchers used a type of AI known as a convolutional neural network, which learns over time, rather than having to be programmed like typical software.

That being said, these impressive results indicate that we're about to experience a paradigm shift, not only in dermatology but in just about every medical field, thanks to developments in artificial intelligence.