Computer program to diagnose breast cancer on mammograms
Mammogram is a very effective technique for detection of breast cancer at a very early stage when it can be cured or treated. Mammogram is capable of detecting mammogram at very early stage of disease prior to infiltration of the tumor to the surrounding structures called stage 0 breast cancer or carcinoma in situ.
Mammograms are usually interpreted by highly trained radiologist, who takes very specialized training in reading mammograms. Reading mammogram is a pain-staking process and is subjected to human errors. More over the expertise of a physician to read mammogram comes with experience. It may take years of experience before a physician can become an expert reader of mammograms. It looks like the ever-powerful computer can one day take over this tedious job from physicians.
A computer algorithm known as likelihood ratio (LRb) classifier is shown to be very effective in detecting breast cancer in mammograms. Likely ratio classifier is capable detecting breast cancer in mammograms with 100 percent accuracy. But when it comes to non-cancerous lesions they were not very good. The program was capable of detecting benign lesions only in 26 percent of mammograms.
These findings are from a study presented by Anna Bilska-Wolack PhD from Duke University, presented at the Era of Hope Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program meeting (2005). Likelihood ratio (LRb) classifier uses an optical technique that mathematically calculates the data from signal processing to decide if the presented signal represents a breast malignancy. The computer program was developed from a large database of mammograms which was biopsy proven to have breast cancer. The likelihood ratio (LRb) classifier has also been shown to be accurate in sets of mammogram that were not involved in developing this computer program.
This new technology may be used in two ways. This computer program may be used to analyze an abnormality that has been identified by a physician. Since the accuracy of this process is 100 percent in the previous studies, the assessment of the computer may be more accurate than provided by the physician. An alternate use may be to supplement the mammogram reading of the physicians to localized abnormalities on the mammogram. These computer programs are not yet ready to take over the job from the physicians, but this is a real possibility in the near future.
Benign: Something like a growth or ulcer that is not cancer. If the doctor tells your tumor is benign, that means the tumor is not cancer. See section on what is cancer
for more details. See cancer terms
for more cancer related terms.