What does the future of healthcare look like in a world where artificial intelligence exists? Doctors, scientists and researchers alike are working tirelessly to answer this very question. Since the term ‘AI’ was coined in 1956 by computer scientist John McCarthy, its role has been ever-changing. From its humble beginnings in the early stages of computer technology to the seemingly impossible it’s capable of today, AI has always evolved and is sure to continue doing so as time goes on.

One of the most crucial facets of AI in today’s society is in healthcare. The possibilities of what AI could do in the field are endless, ranging from diagnosing heart disease more accurately than doctors to knowing when to go forward with surgery.

The poor prognoses associated with most cancers creates a sense of urgency for the brains behind healthcare AI research. Fortunately, researchers have found that AI is able to detect cancer and other diseases earlier than possible through standard diagnostic methods, which could be lifesaving for future patients. This has been proven through studies focused on several different types of cancer, including skin cancer and mesothelioma, which have both been detected using AI with more than 95% accuracy.

Earlier this year, a study showed that a computer could detect melanoma with nearly 10% more accuracy than dermatologists. A deep learning computer was able to successfully diagnose the cancer with 95% accuracy based on more than 100,000 images. Comparatively, 58 dermatologists who were shown the same images detected the cancer with an average of 86.6% accuracy. Additionally, a 2015 study done by the Dicle Medical Journal proved this could be done with mesothelioma, a cancer of the heart, abdomen, or, most commonly, lungs. Using Artificial Immune System (AIS) technology, the study shows that malignant pleural mesothelioma could be detected with 97.74% accuracy.

Cancer care is also advancing thanks to AI’s ability to collect and process data. Due to the nature of processing this information, the task is often a time-consuming and tedious job for doctors. Although it has not yet been perfected, this process may be made much easier, quicker and efficient through the use of AI. The burgeoning technology is only advancing and is capable of sorting through large amounts of data that would be “impossible” to do manually, according to Niven R. Narain, president and co-founder of Berg, a biopharma company.

Every individual is unique, which begs the question: why are many cancer patients provided with the same treatment as the next person? A team at Intel is working to solve this issue. Rather than putting patients through chemotherapy, which takes a major toll on cancer patients’ health and immune systems, the Collaborative Cancer Cloud aims to specialize treatment plans. Through treatments tailored for each individual based on specific genomes, the future of cancer care could potentially mean a much less painful experience for patients.

To completely eliminate cancer, more work needs to be done by both the researchers developing AI technology and the doctors using it in practice. From life-altering breakthroughs such as the ability to diagnose cancers early to simply shortening the time spent processing data and imaging, the world of healthcare is being completely changed by AI.

The future of AI and the role it will play in healthcare down the line is unknown, but researchers are working tirelessly to give patients the best possible outcomes The world may one day have a cure for cancer, and artificial intelligence could be the science that gets us there.

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Author bio: Anna Suarez has been working as a communications professional for over 10 years. She combines her passions for health and technology to research and write about trends in both fields. To find out more about the work Anna and her colleagues do, visit www.maacenter.org.