Can a computer find cancer before an expert oncologist? New research suggests it can.

The research, published by a team led by Raymond Mak, MD, a radiation oncologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, identifies an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm-data science approach that can target tumors for radiation therapy. The solution was developed for an international crowd-sourcing initiative, with the goal of improving cancer care by targeting tumors with the same accuracy as experts.

Tumor targeting for precision radiation therapy is a time-consuming task—it takes doctors an average of eight minutes—and there’s a global shortage of radiation oncologists qualified to perform the task. The AI algorithm takes just seconds, and could have applications in other areas such as breast and skin cancer diagnosis.

“We can develop AI techniques to replicate the expert skill of a human doctor in a specific task in treating cancer,” says Dr. Mak.

AI won’t replace doctors, though it could help doctors spend less time on their computers and more time with patients. “I imagine for the first applications of AI like this is to help support centers that don’t have the same level of expertise,” adds Dr. Mak. “I didn’t go to medical school just to be on a computer—I want to help people.”

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Topics: Patient Experience, Prevention, Innovation, Academic Medical Centers

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