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HomeEducationSmart software to diagnose prostate cancer

Smart software to diagnose prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer, with around 1.1 million diagnoses ever year

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Beijing: Chinese scientists have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system which can diagnose and identify cancerous prostate samples as accurately as any pathologist. This holds out the possibility of eliminating variation in the process of a cancer diagnosis and in the long term it may lead to automated or partially-automated prostate cancer diagnosis.

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer, with around 1.1 million diagnoses every year. Confirmation of the diagnosis normally requires a biopsy sample, which is then examined by a pathologist.

Now an artificial intelligence learning system, presented at the European Association of Urology Congress in Copenhagen, has shown similar levels of accuracy to a human pathologist.

In addition, the software can accurately classify the level of malignancy of cancer, so eliminating the variability which can creep into human diagnosis.

The researchers took 918 prostate whole mount pathology section samples from 283 patients, and ran these through the analysis system, with the software gradually learning and improving diagnosis.

These pathology images were subdivided into 40,000 smaller samples; 30,000 of these samples were used to ‘train’ the software, the remaining 10,000 were used to test accuracy.

The results showed an accurate diagnosis in 99.38% of cases which is effectively as accurate as the human pathologist.

Prostate cancer is the development of cancer in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, some grow relatively quickly. The cancer cells may spread from the prostate to other areas of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes. It may initially cause no symptoms. In later stages, it can lead to difficulty urinating, blood in the urine or pain in the pelvis, back or when urinating.

Factors that increase the risk of prostate cancer include older age, a family history of the disease and race. About 99% of cases occur in those over the age of 50. Having a first-degree relative with the disease increases the risk two to threefold. In the United States, it is more common in the African American population than the White American population.

Prostate cancer screening is controversial. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing increases cancer detection, but it is controversy regarding whether it improves outcomes. Informed decision making is recommended when it comes to screening among those 55 to 69 years old. Testing, if carried out, is more reasonable in those with a longer life expectancy.

Many cases are managed with active surveillance or watchful waiting.Other treatments may include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or chemotherapy. When it only occurs inside the prostate, it may be curable. In those in whom the disease has spread to the bones, pain medications, bisphosphonates and targeted therapy, among others, may be useful.

The 5-year survival rate in the United States is 99%. Globally, it is the second most common type of cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death in men. In 2012, it occurred in 1.1 million men and caused 307,000 deaths. It was the most common cancer in males in 84 countries, occurring more commonly in the developed world. Rates have been increasing in the developing world. Detection increased significantly in the 1980s and 1990s in many areas due to increased PSA testing. Studies of males who died from unrelated causes have found prostate cancer in 30% to 70% of those over age 60.

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