Cancer treatment advices from IBM and Microsoft

Artificial Intelligence will play a crucial role in oncology and radiotherapy

February 1st: Two major IT companies reveal their trump card against cancer. In Brussels, Microsoft Health Innovation Summit was coming to an end, after the presentation of InnerEye, an algorithm for innovative image analysis in oncology. In parallel, IBM Watson for Oncology was “hired” by Jupiter Medical Center, Florida, where it’ll begin working from March.

The first software, InnerEye, is a useful tool in radiotherapy, as it quickly localizes the tumor and the surrounding anatomical structures. Watson, on the other side, assists doctors suggesting the best therapy for cancer treatment. These two A.I. tools can greatly facilitate the tasks for radiologists and oncologists. And they definitely need it.

According to the Medscape Lifestyle Report 2017, respectively 49% and 47% of radiologists and oncologists suffer from a sever burnout.  The main cause? Spending too many hours at work.

Both InnerEye and Watson can play a key role in improving the daily routine of these two working categories. The automated assistants can help the doctors speed up some time-consuming tasks and improve their efficiencies. Mapping tumors and healthy tissues, formulating a diagnosis, and proposing a valid treatment options are actions that generally take hours for a physician to perform. Thanks to these two softwares, these actions can be performed within seconds or a few minutes.  

Cognitive computing in medicine is not only about time efficiency, though, it is also a valuable tool to reduce misdiagnosis. Doctors can quickly receive a second opinion on a case, which may spot over- or under-interpretations, thus improving detection and treatment accuracies. “Second opinions can statistically significantly improve diagnostic agreement for pathologists’ interpretations” concluded a 2016 study on breast cancer detection.

If you’re a physician worried A.I. will replace you, you shouldn’t: both Microsoft Research and IBM Watson stress that these solutions do not provide a diagnosis, but help doctors proposing one. The final word will still come from a human.

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