Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School have developed a new diagnostic procedure to distinguish recurrent breast cancer from non-recurring forms. It is important that breast cancer is diagnosed early (stage 0) for this diagnostic procedure to be effective.
The test uses a computer program to recognize the difference between the two types of breast cancer and is currently approximately 96% accurate and improving its accuracy every day.
Without this computer program, doctors cannot predict breast cancer treatment outcomes at anywhere near the same accuracy. Also, computer errors were false positives, meaning the computer program indicated that the disease would reoccur when it was most likely non-reoccurring, so no one died because of the errors.
“The computer is looking for patterns in the images that humans can’t readily discern, from the level of individual pixels up to an entire image of a million pixels…
…Knowing how aggressive a stage 0 cancer is likely to be could help patients and their doctors decide on the best course of treatment – which is typically either breast-conserving surgery, which consists of removal of the tumor and a small amount of tissue, followed by radiation, or removal of the entire breast.”
The significance of this new diagnostic procedure is that women with early-stage breast cancer can avoid unneeded mastectomies.
The University of Michigan diagnostic procedure will likely become the new standard of care nationwide.