Artificial Intelligence in Oncology

Artificial Intelligence in Oncology

Artificial Intelligence is starting to become extremely relevant in the healthcare industry, especially in the field of medical oncology. From medical imaging analysis to treatment plans, this technology is on path to help physicians not only to more accurately diagnose cancer at early stages but also to help determine the best course of actions for their patients. Artificial Intelligence in cancer care is likely to increase in importance due to its potential to make more efficient and accurate diagnoses and treatment plans. 

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence, also known as AI, is the development of computer applications to perform tasks that usually require human intelligence, such as understanding language, visual perception, recognizing patterns and even making decisions. Technology has reached a level of performance which allows it to train algorithms to learn and interpret large volumes of data, enabling them to make predictions or decisions without needing specific programming. 

There is also a subset in Artificial Intelligence development called machine learning which refers to the training of algorithms on big datasets that enable these to learn from patterns and make predictions. Whereas Artificial Intelligence is programmed to make decisions and use data to make decisions, machine learning actually “remembers” feedback from the results of the process and learns from it.  The combination of the two is where use of historical and current data really begins to shine.  These technological advancements have the potential to not only help improve healthcare outcomes but also reduce resource cost to help extend coverage to wider populations. 

Application of artificial intelligence against cancer

Artificial Intelligence today is playing a crucial role in fighting cancer. Through these smart systems, we can now analyse large amounts of medical information, such as imaging, genetics testing and patient medical history records. One of the main improvements that will come forward from applying artificial intelligence against cancer is early detection. For example, with the application of Artificial Intelligence, breast cancer can be detected at the earliest stages, allowing for high recovery rates for almost all patients. Artificial Intelligence based screening methods are a growing field that provides professionals with accurate data to inform their procedures and work. 

Research on AI for cancer imaging

Numerous research studies developing around Artificial Intelligence and cancer detection through imaging are starting to revolutionise this medical field. Artificial Intelligence assisted cancer imaging can help improve detection, diagnosis and treatment, providing doctors and technicians in the industry with new tools to do their work more effectively. 

For instance, computer-aided detection can help doctors, and more specifically radiologists to flag potential signs of cancer in routine medical images. Another interesting research development is radiomics, which trains algorithms to review large sets of medical image data, such as MRIs or other scans, to recognise specific features that can indicate cancer. Finally, these systems can also work doing image segmentation, analysing areas of interest, finding features and differentiating them from healthy body tissue. 

Early cancer diagnosis

Detecting cancer early is crucial in the fight against this disease, as it allows for a more effective diagnosis and planning of treatment. It is widely known that spotting cancer at the earliest stage leads to a successful outcome and saves many lives. In recent years, the advancement of Artificial Intelligence in cancer detection makes it easier to find the disease at the first stages, before it starts spreading. 

An unique application of Artificial Intelligence systems in cancer diagnostics and detection is predictive modeling. This feature helps to analyse high volumes of patient data to identify patterns according to test results, medical and family health history and more to indicate the risk of cancer, recurrence and even the progression of the illness. The ability to predict outcomes based on age, overall health and individual characteristics help to plan for future treatments. By using the information provided by Artificial Intelligence for cancer detection to their advantage, healthcare professionals will provide more accurate diagnostics and develop specific plans that offer the most positive outcomes.

Importance of Data

As Artificial Intelligence becomes more prevalent in the oncology field it is bringing increased awareness on the importance of historical data.  All of these systems require data to build their internal models for analysis.  This is bringing back the importance of the old saying around data, garbage in equal garbage out, in other words, the ability of Artificial Intelligence to help is only as good as the data that has been fed into the system.  Unlike a human brain which can make a judgment call, computers to some extent are blindly dependent on the data.  Wide variances can be automatically detected and discarded but there is still critical importance to ensure clean reliable data is fed in.   All oncology institutions have incredible amounts of historical data, though it’s often within older technology or hard to access.  As we move more and more into relying on Artificial Intelligence retrieving this data and finding ways to cleanse and use it for analysis will be vitally important. 

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