Breast Cancer and Artificial Intelligence (AI) - Can AI Help with Better Detection Sooner?

Posted by Dawn Anderson on Sep 29, 2021 3:21:19 PM


Artificial intelligence (AI) powers so much in our lives today, from our phones to our cars. But did you know that it can help detect both breast cancer and heart disease from your mammogram? 

If you’re a woman over the age of 40 or have a family history of breast cancer, you’re probably familiar with getting an annual mammogram. Although these mammograms can serve as the first line in early breast cancer detection screening, they’re not something to look forward to. For many women, the worst part is waiting for results notification that the exam was normal or the call to return for further workup. 

Despite the proven benefits of screening mammography, it remains an imperfect test. Breast cancer is complex, every woman is different, and many breast cancers are not visible on mammograms. The challenges with finding breast cancer on mammograms are partly due to dense breast tissue in many women, which can mask a tumor. As a result, up to 45% of women are initially diagnosed in later stages of breast cancer, significantly reducing survival rates. Additionally, false positive recalls from screenings and biopsies may occur, which is, at a minimum, an inconvenience to you, the patient, and may include an invasive and painful biopsy.

If you’re a regular mammogram patient, you may wonder if there’s a way to know sooner and with more certainty whether you have breast cancer. The solution may be in the application of AI. 

How Does AI Work for Mammograms?

CureMetrix, a medical device company that supports Imaging for women’s health, has developed AI-based medical imaging tools to help radiologists evaluate mammograms more accurately.   

When CureMetrix AI scans a woman’s mammogram, it’s not just using one doctor’s accumulated knowledge. CureMetrix has collected millions of images from women worldwide and curated those images to help build the algorithm that is the backbone for the software.Pink Ribbon_iStock-1178512798

The radiology technologist takes your mammogram and uploads your digital images, as they usually do, into the computer server. Then, using the AI-based software, your images are automatically analyzed to detect and mark abnormalities on the mammogram prior to review by the radiologist. Using AI to pre-analyze mammograms is like having a second pair of eyes to support the radiologist.

This pre-reading by the software aids the radiologist in evaluating suspicious areas, which is especially helpful for women with dense breasts who have an abundance of tissue that can obscure cancers on mammograms.

Based on published research, the use of CureMetrix AI has aided radiologists in detecting subtle breast cancers that they would have otherwise missed.   

What if I’m Considering a Second Opinion? 

While AI is being adopted at imaging centers worldwide, many centers still don’t use AI routinely for mammograms. Also, it is known that higher accuracy in cancer detection is in the setting of double reading of mammograms. Double readings are done in Europe but are uncommon in the United States. If you choose to get a second reading of your mammogram, finding a practice that uses AI would make sense. A few more reasons to consider getting a second opinion are:

  • If you were diagnosed with cancer, you might seek a second opinion to confirm your diagnosis before starting treatment.
  • If a family member gets diagnosed, you may want to confirm that your prior mammogram was negative. 
  • You might even get a second opinion if your doctor says everything is fine, but you have persisting symptoms or concerns that something is just not right.  

To support second opinion mammograms, CureMetrix has partnered with an online second opinion imaging center. DocPanel is staffed by experts and subspecialized radiologists who can provide a second opinion aided with the latest AI software and provide you with customized responses to your questions.  You can access this service here

The CureMetrix AI software has been shown to detect cancers and pre-cancerous lesions up to 5 years before they were detected by radiologists reading without the benefit of AI. 

Wait, Heart Disease? 

Did you know that mammography AI software is also being developed as a screening tool for heart disease? 

Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S.—and many of the women who die of heart disease never show symptoms or may have symptoms that were missed.   

CureMetrix AI is evolving to help radiologists use the same mammogram used for breast cancer detection to also detect subtle signs of breast arterial calcifications, which can be an indicator of heart disease. This “two-for-one” strategy of screening for both breast cancer and heart disease at the same time may lead to earlier detection of both breast cancer and heart disease. 

How Do I Know if my Mammogram is Read With AI? 

While some healthcare organizations can be slow to adopt technology, AI is increasingly being used to help doctors with breast cancer screening. Ask your imaging center or radiologist if they’re using AI to read mammograms. If not, it’s easy for them to integrate this technology into their regular operations quickly.

AI is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives—and it saves lives, too. CureMetrix AI for mammography can improve cancer detection faster with fewer false positives, and soon it will help detect your risk of heart disease. Whether you are going in for a routine mammogram or seeking a second opinion, a radiologist using the power of AI will make it count and give you the expertise, technology, and peace of mind you deserve...

For more information, watch this quick video:


Topics: radiology, AI, breast cancer, mammogram, cmTriage, artificial intelligence, mammography, screening, CAD, AI-CAD, Machine Learning, breast cancer awareness, AI Mammogram, black history month, Breast imaging, FFPI, Dense Breast