Google’s AI will now be used to detect breast cancer

Google Healthcare

Google has licensed its artificial intelligence breast cancer detection model to a commercial medical technology company, meaning its algorithm will now be part of commercial mammograms.

The partnership with iCAD, a world leader in 2D and 3D mammography screening technology, was announced last week by Google. “We’re moving from academic research to being able to deploy our algorithm in the real world,” said Greg Corrado, co-founder of the Google Brain.

Google began developing and testing AI models since 2018 and in 2020 published a report in Nature magazine, claiming AI could outperform professional radiologists, in logging fewer false positives and false negatives readings. The study was based on more than 91,000 mammograms from women in the United States and the United Kingdom, and proved that using AI reduced false positives by 9% in the US and nearly 3% in the UK.

The Register reports that under the agreement iCAD will use Google Cloud services to develop infrastructure for storing data securely. “There will be a regulatory approval process that follows the completion of the commercial product. While these dates are difficult to predict and subject to change, we are estimating the availability of an iCAD cloud offering by the end of 2023 and the AI solution with Google AI in the first half of 2024, depending on the time required to achieve regulatory clearance,” a spokesperson from iCAD told the outlet.

This innovation will now be commercially available for the first time to the 7,500 mammography centres worldwide that use iCAD services, including academic health systems. “Google Health’s AI tech could be used to make healthcare more available, more accessible, more accurate,” Corrado said in a statement. “But effecting change like this will only be possible if we work closely with forward-looking partners, those with a deep tradition of pioneering innovation and the market experience and wherewithal to put innovations into real workflows,” he added.

“Google Health working with iCAD is a great example of two organizations coming together to leverage our mutual strengths, technological capabilities, and resources to improve breast cancer screening worldwide, with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes of individuals and communities.”

Gerg Corrado

While the algorithm can lower the burden on radiologists; it can however not replace them, at least not in the near future.