Skin cancer-detecting AI “on par with board-certified dermatologists”

pharmafile | January 27, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications, Research and Development AI, Cancer, skin cancer 

New research has found that artificial intelligence repurposed by researchers at Stanford University to identify skin cancer in images has proven just as effective as medical professionals, with Cancer Research UK praising the technology and noting that it could have many further applications in the cancer field.

The technology was able to identify the type of cancer when shown 129,450 images and, when tested against 21 trained skin cancer doctors, was found to be “on par with board-certified dermatologists,” according to researcher Dr Andre Esteva.

“The application of AI to healthcare is, we believe, an incredibly exciting area of research that can be leveraged to achieve a great deal of societal good,” he continued. “One particular route that we find exciting is the use of this algorithm on a mobile device, but to achieve this we would have to build an app and test its accuracy directly from a mobile device.”

The potential implications of this development would mean that anyone with a smartphone could utilise an authorised app to identify skin cancer using their phone’s camera.

The technology was originally developed by Google to identify the difference between images of cats and dogs. Now repurposed, it has shown the ability to spot even the most deadly of skin cancers – melanoma, which is responsible for 75% of all skin cancer fatalities.

Cancer Research UK’s Dr Jana Witt commented: “Using artificial intelligence to help diagnose skin cancer is very interesting, as it could support assessments by GPs and dermatologists. It’s unlikely that AI will replace all of the other information your clinician would consider when making a diagnosis, but AI could help guide GP referrals to specialists in the future.”

Matt Fellows

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