Posting in Cancer
Using machine learning, Stanford researchers taught computers to sniff out breast cancer better than doctors. The computer pathologist can analyze images of cancerous tissues.
Sending samples to a pathologist to examine under a microscope is a 80-year-old way of diagnosing cancer. But a computer can make more accurate predictions of breast cancer outcomes, according to a study.
Using algorithms that can look at microscopic images and predict patient survival, Stanford scientists have taught computers to predict breast cancer prognosis.
"The computer strips away that bias and looks at thousands of factors to determine which matter most in predicting survival," Stanford professor Daphne Koller said in a statement. The program is called Computational Pathologist, or C-Path.
Traditionally, pathologists consider -- how much of the tumor has tube-like cells, the type of nuclei in the other cells, and how often they divide -- and come up with a score that determines the patient's treatment and rate of survival.
Human pathologists use a scale to judge the type and diversity of the cancer, a method that USA Today calls "subjective."
A computer pathologist, on the other hand, can look at 6,000 cellular factors and consider the environment of the cells around the cancer.
"Through machine learning, we are coming to think of cancer more holistically, as a complex system rather than as a bunch of bad cells in a tumor," Matt van de Rijn said in a statement.
The study was published in Science Translational Medicine and demonstrates why it may be necessary to treat cancer as an ecosystem.
In the future, computers could be trained to help doctors predict type of treatment or recommend which drugs patients would respond best to.
Beyond that, the aid of computer pathologists in the developing world could bring healthcare to areas that lack professional talent and open up the playing field in the treatment of breast cancer in those areas.
Nov 10, 2011
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Computer can do math calculations faster and more accurately than humans. This is no surprise, it's the reason computers were invented in the first place - to count ballots and to calculate artillery trajectories. If the computer can predict cancer growths, then perhaps this will allow some people to receive treatment and continue their lives. My Aunt lost her life because the cancer wasn't treated properly soon enough. On the other hand, the recent death of Steve Jobs shows us that some people, even with a proper early diagnosis, don't seek proper medical treatment, and so the cancer gets the better of them sooner. A computer is a difference engine. It reads vital signs, and calculates odds. It reminds me of the opening scene in "I, Robot". The computer calculated that Detective Spooner had a 45% chance of survival, and that Sarah only had an 11% chance. That was somebody's baby. 11% is more than enough. A human being would've known that When a computer can tell a person with a less than 50% chance that there's still a chance, and that life is worth fighting for, then maybe we'll be on to something.
Good story about how technology helps us make progress in understanding diseases, and how to screen and intervene with more precision. I'm all for breasts. Pink bow.