AI can detect skin cancer better than doctors

A study has found that an artificial intelligence system can better detect skin cancer than experienced dermatologists.


A study has found that an artificial intelligence system can better detect skin cancer than experienced dermatologists.

Researchers trained a form of artificial intelligence or machine learning known as a deep learning convolutional neural network (CNN) to detect skin cancer by showing it more than 100,000 images of malignant melanomas (the most lethal form of skin cancer), as well as benign moles (or nevi).




They compared its performance with that of 58 international dermatologists and found that the CNN missed fewer melanomas and misdiagnosed benign moles less often as malignant than the group of dermatologists.

Dermatologists from around the world were invited to take part, and 58 from 17 countries around the world agreed.



They were asked to first make a diagnosis of malignant melanoma or benign mole just from the dermoscopic images (level I) and make a decision about how to manage the condition - surgery, short-term follow-up, or no action needed.


Then, four weeks later they were given clinical information about the patient, including age, sex and position of the lesion, and close-up images of the same 100 cases (level II) and asked for diagnoses and management decisions.



In level I, the dermatologists accurately detected an average of 86.6 per cent of melanomas, and correctly identified an average of 71.3 per cent of lesions that were not malignant. However, when the CNN detected 95 per cent of melanomas.


At level II, the dermatologists improved their performance, accurately diagnosing 88.9 per cent of malignant melanomas and 75.7 per cent that were not cancer.


 Holger Haenssle, from the University of Heidelberg in Germany said, "The CNN missed fewer melanomas, meaning it had a higher sensitivity than the dermatologists, and it misdiagnosed fewer benign moles as malignant melanoma, which means it had a higher specificity; this would result in less unnecessary surgery."

He added, "These findings show that deep learning convolutional neural networks are capable of out-performing dermatologists, including extensively trained experts, in the task of detecting melanomas."

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.

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Scien-Tech News: AI can detect skin cancer better than doctors
AI can detect skin cancer better than doctors
A study has found that an artificial intelligence system can better detect skin cancer than experienced dermatologists.
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