Google (GOOGL) says it has developed an artificial intelligence system that can detect the presence of breast cancer more accurately than doctors.
A study that tested the accuracy of the system, which was developed through a collaboration between the tech giant and cancer researchers, was published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature.
The program was trained to detect cancer using tens of thousands of mammograms from women in the United Kingdom and the United States, and early research shows it can produce more accurate detection than human radiologists.
According to the study, using the AI technology resulted in fewer false positives, where test results suggest cancer is present when it isn’t, and false negatives, where an existing cancer goes undetected.
Compared to human experts, the program reduced false positives by 5.7% for US subjects and 1.2% for UK subjects. It reduced false negatives by 9.4% for US subjects and 2.7% for UK subjects.
The AI system was more accurate despite it having less information to work with than human experts, such as patient histories and prior mammograms.
Professor Ara Darzi, one of the authors of the paper and the director of the Cancer Research UK Imperial Centre, said he had not expected to see such an impressive result from the AI system.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in women, although outcomes improve considerably if the disease is caught and treated early, the authors of the study say.