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Artificial Intelligence Can Now Detect Skin Cancer Faster Than Doctors

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Many folks across the world suffer from skin cancer in some shape or form. It’s not easy to avoid, but with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), we could have the tools to detect it faster than before, faster than any doctor.

A team from the United States, France, and Germany, created an AI system that is capable of telling apart skin lesions from benign ones, and this was done with over 100,000 images. Now, we understand this machine is a convolutional neural network or CNN which relies a lot on deep learning.

To give the AI a strong test, it was put against 58 dermatologists from 17 countries around the world, and they were all shown photos of malignant melanomas and benign moles.

The AI Came out on Top


Here’s the interesting thing, over half of the dermatologists tested were considered experts in their field with more than five years of experience. We understand that 19 percent had experience between two and five years, while 29 percent had only under two years experience, which makes them beginners at best.

The research team says the majority of the dermatologists were defeated by the CNN, and they made this clear in the journal Annals of Oncology.

Now, when it comes down to flesh and blood dermatologists, they were able to accurately detect 86.6 percent of all the skin cancers shown, while the CNN artificial intelligence detected 95 percent.

“The CNN missed fewer melanomas, meaning it had a higher sensitivity than the dermatologists,” according to Holger Haenssle of the University of Heidelberg and the first author of the study in a statement.

Furthermore, the AI managed to misdiagnosed fewer benign moles as malignant melanoma, and that’s great because it would result in doctors having to perform fewer surgeries that are not necessary.

Improvements From the Dermatologists

Interestingly enough, the dermatologists improved a bit during the test when they were given additional information about the patients along with the skin lesions they suffer from.

All of this is great news because it means in the near or distant future, dermatologists could seek the aid of AI to help when it’s time to diagnose a patient. Despite that, however, one should not expect machines such as this to replace human doctors any time soon.

But if improvements continue to move forward strongly, then the chances of AI replace doctors in some aspects of medicine would become quite high.

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