It’s difficult to treat cancer, with about 100 types, and with each reacting in its own way to treatment depending on the person it’s affecting, every cancer patient comes with his/her own set of challenges. So it’s good to hear that two machines using artificial intelligence are being designed to make doctors’ jobs just a little more easier.
First is the IBM’s supercomputer, which is intended to work a little like a google database, but for doctors dealing with cancer patients. Currently doctors look to textbooks, clinical research and medical reports to help them decipher the best treatment method. The supercomputer will use artificial intelligence, by providing the best method of treatment once a doctor keys in a particular set of test results. To do this extensive data has been collected, specifically over 600,000 medical reports and 1.5 million clinical trials and patient records, in order to define the best way forward for doctors.
IBM is not the only thing out there looking to revolutionize cancer treatment. Google DeepMind, is partnering up with several researchers to come up with artificial intelligence systems that would help better apply radiotherapy to cancer patients. Exposing radiation to cancer patients allows for elimination of the tumor and cancer cells; however this method can also result into devastation of healthy areas of the body. Doctors currently use research and past experience to determine the best method of exposing radiation that will ensure limited exposure to healthy areas.
Segmentation is a process where the doctor draws up a three-dimensional scan of parts that can and cannot be treated on the patient’s tumor site. Most times, doctors face difficult decisions concerning where to expose radiation, especially when dealing with delicate body parts such as the brain.
DeepMind is attempting to turn the tedious segmentation process from taking a lengthy four hours to just one hour. To reduce the timing DeepMind will collect information by analyzing 700 scans from former cancer patients. The hope is to develop a system that can pinpoint the best areas to target and thus create the scans automatically. The focus of this technology is on patients with head and neck cancers, who run more risk of being adversely affected by radiation. Over time, the technology could possibly be applied to treating cancers elsewhere in the body.
If both these technological advances become reality, it’ll help hundreds across the world stand a better chance of being cured. It’ll also significantly reduce the amount of time taken by doctors to research on best methods forward, as they will only be required to choose between courses of treatment that artificial intelligence believes offer the best chances for survival. While we are still yet reach there, it’s been proven possible, and just an arm reach away from becoming a modern medical norm.