Artificial intelligence is now better at spotting deadly cancers than humans

For the study, the team of scientists from the US, Germany and France trained an artificial intelligence system called as deep learning convolutional neural network (CNN) how to differentiate the skin cancer by showing over 100,000 images to it.

Fifty eight dermatologists from 17 countries around the world participated in the study.

"The CNN missed fewer melanomas, meaning it had a higher sensitivity than the dermatologists", the study's first author Holger Haenssle of the University of Heidelberg said in a statement.

Dermatologists' performance got better when researchers gave them more information on the skin lesions of the patients. A study conducted by an global team of researchers pitted experienced dermatologists against a machine learning system to see which was more effective at detecting malignant melanomas.

Melanoma incidents are constantly increasing, with about 232,000 new diagnoses and 55,500 deaths each year worldwide. According to the results of the experiment, this computer is more accurate than dermatologists. When given just a photo of the skin in question, the dermatologists correctly identified roughly 86.6 percent of the melanomas, while the CNN spotted 95 percent.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and is expected to kill an estimated 9,320 people in the U.S.by the end of the year, according to the American Cancer Society.

"These findings present that deep studying convolutional neural networks are able to out-performing dermatologists, together with extensively educated consultants, within the process of detecting melanomas", Prof Haenssle mentioned. "However, the CNN, which was still working exclusively from the dermoscopic images with no additional clinical information, continued to out-perform the physicians' diagnostic abilities".

The machine was tested against a majority of dermatologists who were at "expert" level with more than five years of experience. The cancer can be cured, but it typically requires an early diagnosis.

The team said artificial intelligence may be a useful tool for faster, easier diagnosis of skin cancer, allowing surgical removal before it spreads.

The researchers do not envisage that the CNN would take over from dermatologists in diagnosing skin cancers, but that it could be used as an additional aid. Melanoma in some parts of the body, such as the fingers, toes, and scalp, are hard to image, and AI may have difficulty recognizing. "Currently, there is no substitute for a thorough clinical examination", concluded the researchers.

However, they also admitted that there is much more work to be done to implement this AI technology safely in routine clinical care.

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