Cancer detection via computer vision?

While doctors have a varying success rate of detecting and diagnosing breast cancer, researchers at Stanford University have created a computer system known as the C-Path (Computational Pathologist), which examines tissue samples and is capable of diagnosing breast cancer as well as, if not better than, humans. Additionally, it is able to provide a likely prognosis.

Currently, doctors have to individually examine tissue samples of tumors under microscopes to determine if they’re affected. The C-Path cuts out the middle man, and in addition to serving as inspector, also has the ability to learn as it goes. In fact, its initial programming was based on being fed preexisting samples with known prognoses. This comparison of what the machine does versus the knowledge it was provided with allowed it to “learn” and adapt.

It is the hope of scientists that the C-Path’s abilities can be improved over time so that it has the ability to not only predict the chances of a patient’s survival, but also offer information as to which treatment would be most effective for a particular type of cancer.

Of course, in some situations there is no replacement for the care and exactness of a human inspection, but it is interesting to think what kind of strides a machine like this might make in the medical community.

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