Google AI’s LYNA Offers Promise In Breast Cancer Detection

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Google AI sees massive potential in its latest platform, LYNA – short for LYmph Node Assistant – which it says can detect advanced breast cancer with 99 percent accuracy.

LYNA examines images of a patient’s cells and is trained to recognize characteristics of tumors with the help of pathological slides that were used as datasets and to cap it all, it is able to reduce the time spent on reviewing a slide by half – from two minutes to one.

What is significant about this is, it’s very difficult to detect cancers that have metastasized. Metastatic tumors are cancerous cells that break away from their tissue of origin to travel and form new tumors in other parts of the body.

To illustrate how difficult detecting advanced cancers is, Google AI said studies had shown that about a quarter of metastatic lymph node staging classifications would be changed on second pathologic review, and detection sensitivity of small metastases on individual slides can be as low as 38% when reviewed under time constraints.

Google has since published two journal articles showing how LYNA works.

Google said it applied its algorithm to de-identified pathology slides from both the Camelyon Challenge and an independent dataset provided by the paper’s co-authors at the Naval Medical Center San Diego.

It also carried out a study where six pathologists completed a simulated diagnostic task in which they reviewed lymph nodes for metastatic breast cancer both with and without the assistance of LYNA.

“For the often laborious task of detecting small metastases (termed micrometastases), the use of LYNA made the task subjectively ‘easier’ (according to pathologists’ self-reported diagnostic difficulty) and halved average slide review time, requiring about one minute instead of two minutes per slide,” the company said.

In both instances, Google said, LYNA was able to accurately pinpoint the location of both cancers and other suspicious regions within each slide, some of which were too small to be consistently detected by pathologists.

“As such, we reasoned that one potential benefit of LYNA could be to highlight these areas of concern for pathologists to review and determine the final diagnosis,” Google said.

Google AI’s LYNA is yet another powerful example of the digital transformation of healthcare. Artificial intelligence has the potential to augment the workflows of care providers to increase speed and accuracy of diagnosis and will fuel the growth of many healthcare trends to help patients lead healthier lives.  

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