What does Algorithm have to do with Skin Cancer?
- Posted on: Mar 15 2017
We all know that a great deal of the value of skin cancer treatments stems from our ability to obtain an accurate diagnosis early after the formation of a suspicious lesion. Many of today’s patients understand this, as well. Interestingly enough, the fear of hearing those words, skin cancer, spoken about their skin is enough to stop a lot of patients from scheduling the screening they need. It seems as though a group of Stanford computer scientists may be on to something that will build a bridge between patients and skin cancer treatment: a smartphone app!
The standard methodology used by many dermatologists is to observe suspicious lesions using dermatoscopy. According to initial reports, the artificial intelligence set up by Stanford scientists employs a specific algorithm that can accurately diagnose skin cancers, matching the performance of the dermatoscope when tested in 21 cases. The research paper can be found in a January 2017 issue of Nature.
The inclusion of an algorithm in the skin cancer screening is right on trend. The combination of visual processing and deep learning brings another set of “eyes” to the problem of a skin cancer lesion. The trained computer may be the ideal assistant for the modern-day dermatologist.
Is this the New Way?
Medicine is consistently evolving as we discover new ways to make use of innovative technologies. That being said, should a smartphone app be the new norm? Does this place patients at risk, or does it pave the way for more people to obtain the information they need; information that could potentially save their life?
There are benefits to a discreet and convenient pre-screening screening. First and foremost is the fact that patients may simply feel more comfortable initially seeing what a bit of technology can tell them. Perhaps stepping foot into the medical office is too intimidating for some. In some instances, patients cite a busy schedule or transportation difficulties as reasons for not having a growth evaluated. From this perspective, there could be more advantages to non-medical (but still scientific) assessment.
We cannot imagine a day when face to face interaction between doctor and patient will not be needed. What is needed is for us to remain at the forefront of medicine. This is one of the objectives of the American Society for Mohs Surgery.
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Posted in: Skin Cancer