Some artificial intelligence (AI) computer programmes outperformed pathologists in detecting lymph node metastases of breast cancer in a recent study. The findings appear in JAMA.
Researchers held a competition in which participants created computer algorithms to detect lymph node metastases. Their results were compared with findings from pathologists — one pathologist who took 30 hours to examine 129 whole-slide images, and 11 pathologists who had to perform the task in 120 minutes, which the authors say more accurately reflects clinical practice.
The top-performing programmes all used deep learning-based systems that utilised AI to extract meaningful patterns. The top algorithm was more accurate than the pathologists with a time constraint and comparable to the pathologist with no time limit.
AI may be just what pathology has been waiting for. While still requiring evaluation within a normal surgical pathology workflow, deep learning has the opportunity to assist pathologists by improving the efficiency of their work, standardising quality, and providing better prognostication.