AI tool shows promise in detecting lung cancer in non-smokers

AI tool shows promise in detecting lung cancer in non-smokers | Credits: Google
AI tool shows promise in detecting lung cancer in non-smokers | Credits: Google

United States: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been emerging as an absolute choice in almost every industry. Now, a study has revealed that the technology can help in assessing the chances or presence of lung cancer among non-smokers.

The researchers have underscored that AI-based tools can help to analyze the disease. Accordingly, the program named “CXR-Lung-Risk” can evaluate the X-ray images of the chest and can study the patterns of lung cancer.

The findings of the research were published at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. According to the research, the AI program flagged a few of the X-ray images, which had twice the risk of developing lung cancer.

Visual Representation of AI and Healthcare | Credits: Freepik
Visual Representation of AI and Healthcare | Credits: Freepik

As per HealthDay News, the director of artificial intelligence and co-director of the Cardiovascular Imaging Research Centre at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston – Dr Michael Lu, stated, “This AI tool opens the door for opportunistic screening for never-smokers at high risk of lung cancer, using existing chest X-rays in the electronic medical record.”

Lu, who is also the senior researcher of the study, further continued, “Since cigarette smoking rates are declining, approaches to detect lung cancer early in those who do not smoke are going to be increasingly important.”

Lung cancer cases in the US

According to the data shared by the American Cancer Society, in 2023, as many as 240,000 new lung cancer cases were reported and around 127,000 people succumbed to the disease. Lung cancer is counted among the most common death causes due to cancer.

In the background notes, the researchers underlined that out of the total, around 10 percent to 20 percent of patients are “never-smokers.” Accordingly, never-smokers are those people who have never smoked or the ones who have smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.

Visual Representation of Lung Cancer | Credits: Google Images

The procedure for detecting lung cancer

The doctors or medics use CT scan screening to detect whether the patient is suffering from lung cancer or not. It is to be noted that smoking is one of the major causes of lung cancer, because of which the US Preventive Services Task Force asks for the screening just among adults aged between 50 and 80 – with a history of smoking.

However, the screening is not recommended for those who have not smoked or have smoked very little, making it difficult to predict the risk of lung cancer.

Through a meeting news release, a medical student at Boston University School of Medicine, Anika Walia, stated, “However, lung cancer is increasingly common in never-smokers and often presents at an advanced stage,” according to HealthDay News.

How CXR-Lung-Risk model was formed?

The research team used at least 147,000 chest X-rays to form the CXR-Lung Risk model. According to the reports, as many as 41,000 smokers and non-smokers participated in the cancer screening trials.

These X-ray images assisted in telling the AI technology about the pattern of lung cancer. Following this, the researchers took the x-rays of around 17,400 never-smokers to test the pattern. Researchers have underscored that these belonged to the patients who had routine outpatient X-rays between 2013 and 2014.

According to the research, around 28 percent of never-smokers were flagged by the AI technology, of which 2.9 percent were diagnosed with lung cancer. Walia was quoted saying, “A major advantage to our approach is that it only requires a single chest-X-ray image, which is one of the most common tests in medicine and widely available in the electronic medical record.”

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