The AI ​​system detects prostate cancer during routine CT scans


Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, created an artificial intelligence system that can identify prostate cancer during routine CT scans. Prostate cancer is usually difficult to detect on CT images and radiation makes CT unsuitable as a screening modality. However, if men undergo abdominal or pelvic examinations for other reasons, the latter system can help detect prostate cancer and allow clinicians to start treatment early.

Prostate cancer remains a major cause of cancer mortality in men. In Australia, where this technology was developed, prostate cancer is responsible for approximately 12% of male cancer deaths. Although prostate cancers tend to grow quite slowly, they often go unnoticed for years, which is unfortunate, as early treatment is a significant factor in positive outcomes.

Although men over a certain age are encouraged to undergo routine prostate exams with their doctor, many miss these visits, causing an undiagnosed cancer that can grow out of control for years. While nothing can replace a prostate exam with a clinical one, the accidental discovery of prostate cancer could significantly help many men who otherwise would not be aware of the inner reality.

Australian researchers formed their AI software to identify prostate cancer on computed tomography using a data set of scans of asymptomatic men with and without prostate cancer. Identifying prostate cancer on a computed tomography is generally complicated, even for highly trained human observers, but the artificial intelligence system handled it well.

“We trained our software to see what the human eye can’t, with the goal of detecting prostate cancer through incident detection,” said Ruwan Tennakoon, a researcher involved in the study. “It’s like training a sniffing dog: we can teach AI to see things we can’t with our own eyes, just as a dog can smell things that human noses can’t.”

So far, the system has been able to quickly identify subtle signs of cancer growth and has surpassed radiologists who have seen the same images.

“Australia does not have a prostate cancer screening program, but armed with this technology, we hope to detect cases early in patients who are scanned for other reasons,” said Mark Page, another researcher involved in the study. “For example, emergency patients who have computed tomography could be examined simultaneously for prostate cancer. If we can detect it sooner and refer it more quickly to specialist care, this could make a significant difference in their prognosis “.

Study a Scientific reports: Incidental detection of prostate cancer with computed tomography


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