Impact of AI
The war on cancer and AI
According to Gartner, the market size of AI software will reach USD 62 billion in 2022, 21.3% more compared to 2021.
AI can bring about significant changes in healthcare, too. These will lead to a new understanding of the causes, nature, and treatment of disease.
The impact of AI on oncology could be tremendous. Until now, the generic treatments for cancer involved surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. As a result, It has been referred to as the “cut, poison, burn” method.
The war on cancer is entering a new stage. In the inspiring words of Lynda Wolters, the author of Voices of Cancer, “Cancer can change your body, and it can surely take your body away, but it can't have your spirit.”
A quick look at the current state of oncology
In the 18th century, the French philosopher Voltaire declared, “Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing.”
People have come a long way since then. Medicines are specialized and effective. The pathology of diseases is better understood. Treatments are more humane. Despite many breakthroughs, there is much that remains to be done.
Cancer itself has been diagnosed since ancient times. For example, an Egyptian text called the Edwin Smith Papyrus from approximately 3000 BCE contains descriptions of breast tumors. According to the WHO, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. It accounts for nearly one in six deaths.
Advances in oncology mean significant progress in screening, detection, and treatment. Nowadays, radiation and hormone therapy are helpful, along with chemotherapy. Targeted therapies try to control the growth and division of cancerous cells. And surgeons have developed technical expertise in tissue removal.
AI could bring about the next shift in cancer treatment. From screening to detection to treatment, Big Data makes a big difference.
Changes in Oncology
Using deep learning to understand oncology
In The Emperor of All Maladies, his award-winning book on cancer, Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee has written: “To confront cancer is to encounter a parallel species, one perhaps more adapted to survival than even we are.”
With AI, attempts to study and treat these parallel species enter a new dimension. It is reshaping horizons for the management of cancer patients. Researchers are learning to recognize patterns from several models. The information gained is used to improve decision-making approaches.
This approach relies on machine learning and deep learning methods. Machine learning reshapes patterns and models of analysis, and deep learning refines this for predictive performance.
Enhancing the field of Oncology
The three main ways in which AI is enhancing the field
Medical imaging: Oncologists use medical imaging in many ways. For example, they can take x-rays of organs and microscopic pictures of cancer cells. This helps check the cancer stage, its spread, and whether the treatment works. With AI tools, imaging becomes faster and more accurate. Algorithms use thousands of studies of body parts to create detailed representations. With these, oncologists can detect and check cancerous cells better.
Precision medicine: In precision oncology, the prognosis and treatment of cancer are based on the individual patient. Therefore, genetic and molecular profiles are taken into account. AI can create simulations and show the effect of specific treatments. This innovative approach can target the individual with the proper treatment at the right time.
Novel treatments: AI algorithms can be programmed to understand how cancer cells become resistant to anticancer drugs. New treatments can then be devised. AI also helps radiologists to map affected areas to plan their programs accurately. A chemotherapy regimen can be tailored with the help of AI using the most effective dosage.
Columbia University’s Dr. Azra Raza has written that new strategies in oncology should go beyond early detection and standard treatments. “The prevention I am talking about is through identification and eradication of transformed cancerous cells at their inception, before they have had a chance to organize into a bona fide malignant, incurable disease.” With the many advantages of AI, this dream may soon become a reality.