Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

Google’s AI is better at spotting advanced breast cancer than pathologists

October 15, 2018

The firm’s deep-learning tool was able to correctly distinguish metastatic cancer 99% of the time, a greater accuracy rate than human pathologists.

The system: The team trained an algorithm (named Lymph Node Assistant, or LYNA) to spot the features of tumors that have metastasized (that is, spread), which are notoriously difficult to detect. Of the half a million deaths worldwide caused by breast cancer, 90% are due to metastasis.

Gold standard: The 99% rate is superior to the performance of human pathologists, and the algorithm was also better at finding small metastases on individual slides. Human pathologists can miss these as much as 62% of the time when under time pressure, studies have shown.

A useful sidekick: Rather than replacing humans, this technology is more likely to complement their skills, making it easier and quicker to diagnose metastatic tumors. In one study, the algorithm halved the time it took to check a slide on average, cutting it to just one minute per slide.

What next: Google is applying AI to health care in a number of different projects. Its subsidiary DeepMind is using AI to look for signs of eye disease at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, for example. The next step will to be to see how LYNA performs in the clinic for real.

Deep Dive

Silicon Valley

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Twitter’s potential collapse could wipe out vast records of recent human history

What happens when the world’s knowledge is held in a quasi-public square owned by a private company that could soon go out of business?

Twitter may have lost more than a million users since Elon Musk took over

Estimates from Bot Sentinel suggest that more than 875,000 users deactivated their accounts between October 27 and November 1, while half a million more were suspended.

Former Twitter employees fear the platform might only last weeks

An ultimatum by Elon Musk demanding "extremely hardcore" working culture appears to have backfired. Insiders fear this could spell the end without drastic changes.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.