BOSTON, Mass. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Mammography is the best tool our doctors have to detect breast cancer. The screening has improved since becoming  widely available in the 80’s but it still has limitations. In fact, the American Cancer Society reports that mammograms miss one in eight breast cancers. Now, one of the country’s top imaging experts and a Harvard Medical School professor are exploring the benefits of adding artificial intelligence to this potentially life-saving screening.

For women over 40, many doctors recommend a yearly mammogram – the earlier radiologists can catch breast cancer, the better a woman’s chances are of surviving. And the technology has drastically improved over the years.

“We went from old analog films of the breast tissue to fulfilled digital mammography, to now 3D mammography and even contrast enhanced mammography. The technology boom was amazing, but it was exceeding the human eye and the human brain’s ability to extract information from those beautiful images,” Mass. General Brigham’s Chief of Breast Imaging,  Connie Lehman, MD, PhD explains.

This is where artificial intelligence comes in. It’s super-fast technology that analyzes those images and searches for masses that the human eye might miss. AI could also help assess future cancer risk.

Dr. Lehman adds, “We can also guide women in understanding, ‘You may not have a cancer evident on your mammogram now, but you are at risk in the next five to 10 years. And so, we want to talk to you about a more effective screening for you.’”

Dr. Lehman and a team of researchers are currently studying the accuracy of AI in previously stored mammograms. They want to assess how accurate AI is in a population of minority women. Dr. Lehman says the technology has not yet been studied in a clinical trial, an important step to confirm that AI is an effective screening tool.