In 2020, Could Artificial Intelligence Help Cure Cancer?

In 2020, Could Artificial Intelligence Help Cure Cancer?

Time is of the essence when it comes to treating cancer, the second leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between diagnosis and the first day of treatment, days and even weeks may tick by as doctors convene to discuss treatment plans and order testing to gather as much information as possible. But as a new decade dawns, artificial intelligence may buy more time for those who need it most.

Both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have promised to prioritize curing cancer should they win the 2020 election. But because of its complex biology, cancer has been historically difficult to cure with a pill or injection. As new treatments like immunotherapy undergo further research, health systems are starting to harness data-sharing and artificial intelligence to better predict a patient’s prognosis, and determine the most effective treatment plan for their cancer based on other patients with similar medical histories.

The Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, in partnership with Intel, created a “collaborative cancer cloud” with this vision. Once doctors have met a patient, within hours, they can diagnose them and begin treatment. Thanks to AI’s ability to analyze massive amounts of real patient data, doctors can better predict the best possible treatment for their patient, based on the responses of others with genetically similar cancers. OHSU says the project uses “machine learning techniques against a collective set of molecular and imaging data in order to support big data analytics in a federated, aligned environment,” and hopes to shorten the diagnosis-to-treatment time period to 24 hours in 2020. Similar programs include CancerLinq, ORIEN and the Cancer Moonshot Research Initiative.

“In the past, vast quantities of information were lost to file cabinets and unconnected servers. The big data era is allowing CancerLinQ and other initiatives to access this large and growing amount of de-identified data to help physicians provide high-quality care,” said Dr. Robert Miller, medical director of CancerLinq, which gathers anonymized patient data from electronic health records nationwide. “Instead of learning only from the 3% of patients who join clinical trials, CancerLinQ aims to enable practices to learn from everyone with cancer.”


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