In Brief

Google AI can detect breast cancer more effectively than doctors

Lyra algorithm can successfully identify cancerous cells 99% of the time

Google has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) programme that is more effective at identifying signs of breast cancer than doctors.  

Created by researchers at Google AI and the Naval Medical Center San Diego, the Lymph Node Assistant (Lyna) has been programmed to recognise the “characteristics” of tumours by analysing scans from real-world cancer patients, Engadget reports.

The process, commonly referred to as machine learning, allows the AI identify cancerous cells 99% of the time, the tech site says. 

It could mean the Lyna is used as a virtual “spell check” for pathologists, says Business Insider, where the AI programme is used as a back-up tool to help medical professionals confirm whether a minute anomaly on a scan is either benign or malign.

The search engine’s researchers found that pathologists who used the tool “performed better” than those who didn’t use the programme, the news site says.

And according to Google, some pathologists claim the Lyra tool makes detecting small growths, an often “laborious task”, notably “easier”. 

A member of the search giant’s AI team, Yun Liu, told Business Insider that the Lyna “represents a demonstration that people can work really well with AI algorithms than either one alone.”

But Google isn’t the only technology company looking to make inroads into the medical industry.

Last week, Chinese tech firm Tencent revealed that it is developing an algorithm to aid Parkinson’s disease patients record their symptoms. This would help doctors prescribe the correct amount of medication, cutting down the number of hospital visits for patients. 

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