While 2016 might be in the running for the “worst year ever”, technological advancements might mark it as the year that the tide turned in the fight against cancer.
Countless celebrity deaths and a tiring election season have darkened headlines for much of this year. They have also overshadowed some impressive progress in healthcare technology. The key to this progress? Artificial intelligence.
Silicon valley tech giants have recently become very interested in finding solutions for cancer. NVIDIA — a company well-known for designing cutting-edge graphics processing units — announced in November that they are helping the US to develop artificial intelligence to combat cancer.
Earlier this year, Google and Microsoft made similar announcements that they will also be developing algorithms to help detect and treat cancerous diseases.
But how can A.I. help our fight against cancer?
It will help with research. The new A.I. platform that NVIDIA is working on is called CANDLE (Cancer Distributed Learning Environment). It will serve, as described by NVIDIA, as a “comprehensive cancer surveillance database”. This platform will reportedly improve the speed of cancer research by ten times through the use of supercomputers with graphics processors.
CANDLE will be used to determine the genetic signatures of common cancers, then run rapid simulations to determine the underlying conditions that promote the growth of cancer. Then, it will be able to extract information from clinical patient records to identify those who may be susceptible to it.
Clearly, this sort of technology would help medical professionals make early diagnoses — a key component to successful treatments. While anyone should undergo appropriate medical testing when warning signs and symptoms are detected, A.I. will be able to detect it far before the patient or doctor. This could dramatically improve survival rates from cancer treatment in the future.
Artificial intelligence is a key player in the advancement of finding solutions to the problems of cancer.
Another A.I. intended to help with diagnoses was revealed earlier this year. An A.I. developed at Harvard Medical School is capable of diagnosing breast cancer.
Revealed in April of this year, it was proven to be able to find cancerous tumors with 92% accuracy. Compared to the average 96% accuracy from a trained pathologist, this is an impressive feat.
In fact, when professionals use the A.I. system in conjunction with their own training, accuracy increases to 99.5%. Some supercomputers may even outperform doctors when it comes to diagnosing cancer.
A.I. will also help with treatment. Yet another project is in development in conjunction with Microsoft that will use A.I. to personalize cancer treatment plans. Whereas most cancer treatments are designed to handle multiple types of leukemias simultaneously, A.I. could be taught to identify which specific ones a patient has.
Drug mixes could be customized to suit individual patient needs. This would dramatically lessen the negative side effects of cancer treatment. Tech companies have a history of revolutionizing personalized healthcare, and Microsoft’s latest push in cancer research seems to be a continuation of this trend.
These are a few examples of the technological innovations in the field of cancer research in the last several months. Realistically speaking, will these projects bring about a dramatic change in healthcare in the upcoming years?
The implementation of new advancements in healthcare is one of the biggest challenges for the healthcare industry. It is difficult to determine precisely when such advancements will find their way into most hospitals nationwide.
Of course, learning how to use this new technology is another challenge altogether. Regis College, which offers online courses in Health Administration, holds panels that delve into the relationship between genetics and cancer. Advanced data of this nature can be complex, and learning to decipher this information can be difficult for many healthcare professionals.
Fighting cancer is a major challenge. However, as more entrepreneurs and influencers throw their hats into the ring, it becomes more likely that a solution will be found within our lifetime.
There have been projects that will improve cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment. Artificial intelligence is a key player in the advancement of finding solutions to the problems of cancer.
For more examples of how technology is transforming public services and research, click here.
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