Efficiency is one of the great success of modern computers. When it comes to sifting through large quantities of data or recognizing patterns, for instance, computers are several magnitudes better than humans. In China, this technology is being turned on cancer. Artificial intelligence (AI) may be the key to detecting diseases such as stomach cancer. Keep reading or follow the story here at ecns.
Also sometimes referred to as gastric cancer, stomach cancer affects the interior lining of the stomach. The cancerous cells often begin in the inner layers of the stomach tissue and grow outward. Symptoms of stomach cancer may include stomach pain, severe indigestion, bloody stool, and persistent nausea. Stomach cancer is traditionally diagnosed with measures such as physical examination, upper endoscopy, biopsy, and CT scan.
While stomach cancer is relatively uncommon in the United States, the World Health Organization lists stomach cancer as a leading cause of death in China. Part of the problem is the huge quantity of people living in China and the shortage of specialists.
Dr. Xu Guoliang heads the Department of Endoscopy and Laser at Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Treatment Center. One of his ongoing areas of research has been early cancer detection. His goal is to identify cancer in a patient as early as possible. Even a passionate specialist like Xu, however, is greatly outnumbered.
Xu reported to Chinese CGTN that there are 29,000 qualified doctors for endoscopy in China. While that number seems large on its own, there are an estimated 120,000,000 patients who require endoscopy each year. The supply of doctors simply cannot keep up with the demand of patients, no matter what planned measures are taken.
That’s why Dr. Xu began investigating the uses of artificial intelligence. Partnering with Tencent, Xu hopes to develop an AI capable of clinical diagnostic tasks.
The process would involve an endoscopy creating 48 images. These images are sent in real time to a database at Tencent. The AI system, named Miying, will be able to analyze them against a massive database in a blink. Feedback comes to patient and specialist in four seconds including likely locations of the cancer.
The AI program’s current accuracy in diagnosing center cancers is reaching 90% and is predicted to only improve over time.
The Chinese government also announced last November that it was committed to the idea of AI as central to the country’s medical future. The government intends for there to be a national AI platform capable of diagnostic imaging similar to the program Xu works with. British and US agencies also continue to research and investigate the potential of computer intelligence in cancer diagnosis.