AI tool analyzes CT scans to spot prostate cancer in seconds

Continuous advances in artificial intelligence promise to shake up medical care in all kinds of exciting ways, with the ability to rapidly scan medical images and spot signs of disease far more efficiently than humans can. Scientists in Australia have now adapted this technology for the early detection of prostate cancer, with their software outperforming trained radiologists to detect cancerous growths in seconds.

For many medical ailments, an early diagnosis can greatly improve the treatments available and therefore the chances of overcoming them. Improvements in machine learning and computing power have led to highly capable forms of artificial intelligence that could be invaluable in this regard. We’ve seen AI tools that can improve an ECG’s ability to reveal heart dysfunction, more accurately predict survival rates of ovarian cancer and just this week, calculate diabetes risk by measuring fat around the heart.

The latest example of this comes from researchers at Melbourne’s RMIT University and St Vincent’s Hospital, who started with CT scans of asymptomatic patients both with and without prostate cancer. The scientists note that, generally speaking, CT scans are useful for detecting ailments like bone and joint problems, but it is difficult for radiologists to use them to detect prostate cancers.

Using the CT scans, the AI software was trained to search for irregularities that could be indicative of the disease. The tool improved with each scan, refining its abilities and adapting to analyze scans from different machines, eventually spotting the smallest features of the disease. In time, it was able to outperform radiologists and detect cancerous growths in seconds, even before patients exhibited any symptoms.

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