AI platform diagnoses prostate cancer as well as pathologists

A group of Chinese scientists and clinicians developed a learning artificial intelligence (AI) platform able to diagnose prostate cancer with the same accuracy as a human pathologist, according to a European Association of Urology press release.

"This is not going to replace a human pathologist" said lead researcher Hongqian Guo, with Nanjing Drum Tower Hospital in China. "We still need an experienced pathologist to take responsibility for the final diagnosis. What it will do is help pathologists make better, faster diagnosis, as well as eliminating the day-to-day variation in judgement which can creep into human evaluations.”

In the study, presented at the European Association of Urology congress in Copenhagen, the group took 918 prostate whole mount pathology section samples from 283 patients. Those were sent through the AI analysis system as the software improved its diagnostic abilities.

The pathology images were divided into 40,000 smaller samples—30,000 were used to train the software, and the remaining 10,000 were reserved to determine the accuracy of the AI system.

Using a human pathologist to reaffirm the study, the AI system proved to be 99.38 percent accurate.

“The system was programmed to learn and gradually improve how it interpreted the samples. Our result show that the diagnosis the AI reported was at a level comparable to that of a pathologist. Furthermore, it could accurately classify the malignant levels of prostate cancer,” Guo said in the release.

“Until now, automated systems have had limited clinical value, but we believe this is the first automated work to offer an accurate reporting and diagnosis of prostate cancer. In the short term, this can offer a faster throughput, plus a greater consistency in cancer diagnosis from pathologist to pathologist, hospital to hospital, country to country."