Google is taking the next step towards putting its breast cancer screening technology into clinical practice, the company announced Tuesday.
It's partnering with the U.K.'s National Health Service to study whether artificial intelligence can make breast cancer screening more accurate, safer, less expensive and improve patient experience compared to mammograms analyzed by doctors. Imperial College London, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, St. George's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust will participate in the study.
Researchers will compare Google's AI system to the results of radiologists at two NHS sites with large, diverse patient populations. They will also reanalyze historical mammograms from about 50,000 women to understand how Google's AI compares to experts when evaluating complex cases and carry out small feasibility studies to determine whether the system could support clinical care.
"Artificial intelligence has shown great potential to dramatically improve both access and quality of healthcare, and the next step is to assess how this technology could be safely implemented in real-world clinical settings," Dr. Susan Thomas, clinical director at Google Health, said in a prepared statement.
Google's AI significantly outperformed radiologists in detecting breast cancer from mammograms, according to a study published in Nature last year. The company hopes to bring it to market someday, pitching it as a potentially effective way to improve care, ease doctors' workloads and address a mounting shortage of radiologists.
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in the U.S., leading to a disproportionate number of deaths among Black women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Better and more accessible breast cancer screenings could help reduce the number of people that die from breast cancer by discovering it sooner, enabling more effective treatment.