The application of artificial intelligence in medicine creates great hopes as the possibilities it can offer are endless; within them, one more is coming to be added.
Artificial intelligence will be able to predict the risk of breast cancer spreading and this could save many lives, experts say. Scientists have developed a system that calculates the risk of cancer spreading starting from the armpit lymph nodes.
It can be used in the early stages of the disease in women with triple-negative breast cancer – which in the UK where the research was carried out amounts to around 8,000 a year.
By comparing a woman's lymph nodes with those of previous patients, AI can calculate how the cancer is likely to develop next.
Those at the highest risk of spreading could be treated more aggressively, while women at low risk could prevent the disease.
Secondary breast cancer tool"
Dr Anita Grigoriadis, who led the research at the Breast Cancer Now Unit at King’s College London, said: “By demonstrating that lymph node changes can predict if triple-negative breast cancer will spread, we’ve built on our growing knowledge of the important role that immune response can play in understanding a patient’s prognosis.”
"We've taken these findings from under the microscope and translated them into a deep-learning framework to create an AI model to potentially help doctors treat and care for patients, providing them with another tool in their arsenal for helping to prevent secondary breast cancer."
Secondary breast cancer - when tumors return after treatment and spread throughout the body - is incurable.
More than 60,000 women in the UK live with the condition and manage it with long-term medication.
Dr. Grigoriadis tested her AI on more than 5,000 lymph nodes — glands of the immune system — donated by 345 real breast cancer patients.
The study, revealed in the Journal of Pathology, found that the algorithm could predict the risk of spread based on immune responses in the lymph nodes.
The team will test the software in clinics across Europe to get more evidence that it works in order to perfect it.
Dr Grigoriadis added: "We’re planning to test the model further at centres across Europe to make it even more robust and precise."
"The transition from assessing tissue on glass slides under a microscope to using computers in the NHS is gathering pace."
"We want to leverage this change to develop AI-powered software based on our model for pathologists to use to benefit women with this hard-to-treat breast cancer."