How technology is helping cancer patients

Health Watch

A group of researchers have developed a system to use computers to increase the odds for some cancer patients.

A shocking statistic: more than half of the people living with advanced lung cancer will die within one year of being diagnosed.

But researchers are working to increase survival rates.

One of the biggest challenges in cancer treatment is catching it at an early stage before it has spread.

Naji Khosravan, Ph.D. candidate, University of Central Florida says, “something around 30 to 40 percent cancers is missed during the early stages of screening.”

But doctors may soon have a new tool to help in the fight against cancer.

Researchers at the University of Central Florida have developed an artificial intelligence system to detect tiny specks of lung cancer in CT scans.

Ulas Bagci, Ph.D., Professor of Computer Science at UCF says, “the radiologists tend to miss them because they look like you know like the normal tissue and it is very natural to miss those tumors.”

The researchers train the system to look for patterns in the scan to find tiny tumors.

Then the system analyzes it and determines whether the tumor is cancerous. It’s 95 percent accurate, compared to 65 percent when done by a human.

Ulas Bagci continues, “so we are actually helping them to improve their screening strategies and especially for very small nodules.”

The success has led them to a partnership with the mayo clinic in Florida to develop a similar system to spot pre-malignant cysts in the pancreas that can lead to pancreatic cancer.

Rodney Lalonde, a Ph.D. student at the University of Central Florida says, “with pancreatic cancers, over half of the patients are not diagnosed until a very late stage.”

Ulas Bagci says, “so our idea is to find the you know the cyst, pancreatic cyst before they turn into cancer. It is going to improve the life span of people because you are capturing the lung cancer or pancreatic cancer at the early phrase. And improving the survival rates of patients. “

The researchers have already filed for a patent for the AI system to detect pancreatic cysts.

Now they are looking to get FDA approval for clinical use for both the lung and pancreatic cancer systems so doctors can start using them in hospital settings.

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