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Chicago team uses artificial intelligence to diagnose metastatic cancer
Date:7/28/2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. July 28, 2009 -- When doctors are managing care for women with breast cancer, the information available to them profoundly influences the type of care they recommend. Knowing whether a woman's cancer has metastasized, for instance, directly affects how her doctors will approach treatment -- which may in turn influence the outcome of that treatment.

Determining whether a tumor has metastasized is not always straightforward, however. Radiologists often start by using diagnostic ultrasound to non-invasively probe the nearby lymph nodes -- tissues where cancer cells first migrate once they metastasize. But in the early stages of cancer, lymph nodes often appear completely normal even if the cancer has metastasized.

Now a team of researchers at the University of Chicago has designed a computer program that uses artificial intelligence to analyze the features of ultrasound images in order to help doctors predict earlier whether a woman's cancer has metastasized. The team will discuss the first preclinical results obtained using this program at the upcoming meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), which takes place from July 26 - 30, 2009 in Anaheim, California.

Currently there are no automated methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration for diagnosing cancer, but on Wednesday the team will report the results of a preliminary pilot study that retrospectively reanalyzed the diagnostic ultrasounds of 50 women with suspected breast cancer who all had lymph nodes that appeared normal in the ultrasound -- suggesting that their cancers had not metastasized.

All 50 women later underwent surgery to remove their cancers and axillary lymph nodes, and tissue biopsies of the lymph nodes revealed that 20 of them had metastatic cancer and 30 of them had cancer that remained localized at the time of surgery.

The pilot study aimed to determine if the computer would have accurately
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Contact: Jason Bardi
jbardi@aip.org
301-209-3091
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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