Clinicians design AI tool to predict side effects in breast cancer patients. Medical research

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Doctors have developed an artificial intelligence tool that can predict which breast cancer patients are at high risk of side effects after treatment.

Worldwide, 2 million women are diagnosed with this disease each year, making it the most common cancer in women in most countries.

Greater awareness, earlier detection and a wider range of treatment options have improved survival rates in recent years, but many patients will often experience debilitating side effects after treatment.

An international team of clinicians, scientists and researchers has designed an AI tool that can predict how likely a patient is to experience problems after surgery and radiotherapy. The technology is being tested in the UK, France and the Netherlands, which could help patients access more personalized care.

Dr Tim Rutte, consultant breast surgeon and associate professor at the university, said: “Thankfully, long-term survival rates from breast cancer continue to improve, but for some patients, this means that their treatment is Lester’s “These include skin changes, scarring, lymphoedema, a painful swelling of the arm, and even heart damage from radiation treatment.

“That’s why we’re developing an AI tool to inform doctors and patients about the risk of chronic arm swelling after surgery and radiotherapy for breast cancer. We hope it will help doctors and patients avoid radiation. It will help to choose treatment options and reduce side effects for all patients.”

The AI ​​tool was trained to predict lymphedema up to three years after surgery and radiotherapy using data from 6,361 breast cancer patients. Patients who are at high risk for arm swelling may be offered alternative treatments or additional support during and after treatment.

Dr Guido Bologna, associate professor at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland in Geneva and co-investigator of the project, said: “The final, best-performing model used 32 different patient and treatment characteristics. predictors, including whether or not patients had chemotherapy, whether an axillary sentinel lymph node biopsy was performed, and the type of radiotherapy given.”

The AI ​​tool correctly predicted lymphoedema in an average of 81.6% of cases and correctly identified patients who would not develop it in an average of 72.9% of cases. The overall prediction accuracy of the model was 73.4%.

“Patients identified as being at high risk for arm swelling may be offered additional supportive measures, such as wearing arm compression sleeves during treatment, which may reduce arm swelling in the long term,” Rutte said. has been shown to reduce.” “Clinicians can also use this information to discuss lymph node irradiation options in patients, where the benefit may be substantial.”

Speaking at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Milan, Ratte said the technology is “an explainable AI tool, which means it reveals the reasoning behind its decision-making.

“This not only makes it easier for doctors to make decisions, but also to provide data-backed explanations to their patients,” he added.

The research team hopes to enroll 780 patients as part of a clinical trial called the PREACT project, which will be followed for a period of two years. They are also developing tools to predict other side effects, including skin and heart damage.

Dr Simon Vincent, director of research, support and influencing at Breast Cancer Now, said there was an urgent need for ways to improve treatment. “This exciting project will explore whether the use of AI can enable people with breast cancer to receive more personalized care and support that reduces side effects such as chronic arm swelling after surgery and radiotherapy. helps to do

“This research is in its early stages and more evidence is needed before we can consider whether the AI ​​tool can be used in clinical settings, and we look forward to seeing the trial results. “

In other developments at the conference, researchers in Italy found that using a combined positron emission tomography-magnetic resonance imaging (PET-MRI) scan helped doctors determine if a breast cancer patient’s tumor had spread. has begun. This meant they could benefit from alternative treatments, such as chemotherapy or different types of surgery.

Meanwhile, researchers in the Netherlands said that young breast cancer patients given lower doses of radiotherapy from the site where their tumors were removed, in addition to whole-breast radiotherapy, were more likely to have local recurrences after 10 years. Stay clean.

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