Researchers show AI can dramatically reduce breast radiologist workload without compromising accuracy

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | August 04, 2023
Artificial Intelligence Women's Health
New research out of Sweden details clear advantages of AI for both patients and providers when interpreting mammography exams.

By using AI in place of double reads, (a standard practice in Europe in which a second breast radiologist reviews findings), the screen-reading workload for radiologists was reduced by 44%. The researchers estimated that it took approximately five months less of a radiologist’s time to read the roughly 40,000 screening examinations in the AI group.

“We found that using AI resulted in the detection of 20% more cancers compared with standard screening, without affecting false positives. A false positive in screening occurs when a woman is recalled but cleared of suspicion of cancer after workup,” says Kristina Lång, researcher and associate professor in diagnostic radiology at Lund University and consultant at Skåne University Hospital, who led the study.

The Mammography Screening with Artificial Intelligence (MASAI) trial was conducted using ScreenPoint’s Transpara version 1.7.0 software.

“In our trial we used AI to identify screening examinations with a high risk of breast cancer, which underwent double reading by radiologists. The remaining examinations were classified as low risk and were read only by one radiologist. In the screen reading, radiologists used AI as detection support, in which it highlighted suspicious findings on the images”, says Lång.

The findings included 80,033 women who were randomly allocated into two groups. The group with AI-supported screening included 40,003 women, while the control group that underwent standard double reading contained 40,030. All told, the number of screen readings with AI-supported screening was 46,345 compared with 83,231 with standard screening.

“We need to see whether these promising results hold up under other conditions, for example with other radiologists or other AI algorithms. There may be other ways to use AI in mammography screening, but these should preferably also need to be investigated in a prospective setting,” states Lång.

A total of 100,000 women have now been enrolled in the MASAI trial. The research team’s next step is to investigate which cancer types were detected with and without AI support.

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