The use of artificial intelligence (AI) appears to be a new tool for diagnosing and grading prostate cancer with the same accuracy as pathologists, according to researchers with Karolinska Institute (KI) in Sweden. This is welcomed news as one of the problems in prostate cancer diagnostics, is when different pathologists come to different conclusions. That’s when making decisions on best treatment based on uncertain information regarding diagnosis and grading of prostate cancer, becomes problematic.
Accurate detection of prostate cancer and then grading and staging of the disease is crucial for knowing the best treatment for fighting prostate cancer. This informs doctors of the extent of the cancer and allows them to measure disease spread within or beyond the prostate. That’s why AI systems that can identify and grade prostate cancer in tissue samples equally well as pathologists, look to be a complementary tool in prostate cancer care.
Fast facts about prostate cancer and pathology
Diagnosing prostate cancer accurately is crucial. For men, not all prostate cancers are created equal. Some are very slow-growing and never need treatment while others can be fatal in a short period of time.
To determine the type and grade of prostate cancer, when a man’s prostate is biopsied, the samples are sent to a pathologist who will confirm the diagnosis by studying the samples under a microscope. From there, the doctor will use the information provided by the pathologist to help manage a man’s care and treatment of the disease.
Here are some fast facts about prostate cancer and pathology:
- Prostate cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death among men in the United States
- Over 20 million prostate tissue samples are examined in Europe and the U.S.
- Globally, there is a shortage of pathologists, and many developing countries have less than one pathologist per 1 million population.
- The difficulty of assessing prostate tissue samples in an objective and reproducible manner represents a bottleneck for reducing prostate cancer mortality.
Accurate diagnostics using AI
The study, published in Nature Medicine , found that AI technology holds great potential for working in conjunction with pathologists and can help lighten the load when diagnosing and grading prostate cancer.
Earlier studies from KI researchers have shown that AI systems are able to indicate if a tissue sample contains cancer or not. AI can also estimate the amount of tumor tissue in a biopsy, and grade the severity of prostate cancer.
This new study has found that AI systems can produce an equally accurate diagnosis and grading of prostate cancer in the international setting as well as human pathologists. At this time, AI systems are not being used in patient care settings but that is the next step. Controlled studies will need to be conducted for further evaluation on how to implement them in patient care.
The researchers emphasized that AI systems are not meant to replace human experts. As Lars Egevad, co-author of the study and professor at the Department of Oncology-Pathology at KI and expert on prostate pathology stated, “The idea is not for AI to replace human experts, but rather to function as a safety net to avoid pathologists missing cancer cases and to help in understanding the assessments. AI can also be an option in those parts of the world that today completely lack pathology expertise.”
AI systems look to be an answer to lightening the load of pathologists keeping up with the demand for accurate diagnosis and grading of prostate cancer in a timely manner.
As long as AI systems are viewed as an adjunct to help complement and not replace pathologists, this new technology could reassure men and their families, they are receiving the best accuracy and determination of their prostate cancer diagnosis and how best to treat it.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.