analysing mammograms using AI

Now AI is good enough to judge your mammogram

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Each year there are more than 55,000 new cases in the UK and the disease claims the lives of 11,500 women. In the US, it affects 266,000 people and kills 40,000 each year. But what causes it and how can it be treated?

What is breast cancer?

It comes from a cancer cell that develops in the lining of a duct or lobule in one of the breasts.

When the breast cancer has spread to surrounding tissue, it is called ‘invasive’. Some people are diagnosed with “carcinoma in situ,” where no cancer cells have grown beyond the duct or lobule.

Most cases develop in people over the age of 50, but younger women are sometimes affected. Breast cancer can develop in men, although this is rare.

Staging indicates how big the cancer is and whether it has spread. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 4 means the cancer has spread to another part of the body.

The cancer cells are graded from low, which means slow growth, to high, which means fast growth. High-grade cancers are more likely to come back after being treated first.

What Causes Breast Cancer?

A cancerous tumor starts with one abnormal cell. The exact reason why a cell becomes cancerous is unclear. Something is thought to damage or alter certain genes in the cell. This makes the cell abnormal and multiply ‘out of control’.

Although breast cancer can develop for no apparent reason, there are some risk factors that can increase the risk, such as heredity.

What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?

The usual first symptom is a painless breast lump, although most are not cancerous and are fluid-filled cysts, which are benign.

The first place where breast cancer usually spreads is the lymph nodes in the armpit. When this happens, you get a swelling or lump in an armpit.

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

  • Initial assessment: A doctor examines the breasts and armpits. They may perform tests such as a mammogram, a special X-ray of the breast tissue that can indicate the possibility of tumors.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is when a small sample of tissue is removed from an area of ??the body. The sample is then examined under a microscope to look for abnormal cells. The sample can confirm or rule out cancer.

If you are confirmed to have breast cancer, further tests may be needed to assess whether it has spread. For example, blood tests, an ultrasound of the liver or a chest x-ray.

How is breast cancer treated?

Treatment options that may be considered include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormone treatment. Often a combination of two or more of these treatments is used.

  • Surgery: Breast-conserving surgery or removing the affected breast, depending on the size of the tumor.
  • Radiotherapy: A treatment that uses high-energy beams of radiation aimed at cancerous tissue. This kills cancer cells or prevents them from multiplying. It is mainly used in addition to surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: A treatment for cancer using anticancer drugs that kill cancer cells or prevent them from multiplying.
  • Hormone treatments: Some types of breast cancer are affected by the “female” hormone estrogen, which can stimulate cancer cells to divide and multiply. Treatments that lower the level of these hormones or prevent them from working are commonly used in people with breast cancer.

How successful is the treatment?

The outlook is best in those who are diagnosed when the cancer is still small and has not spread. Surgical removal of a tumor at an early stage can then give a good chance of a cure.

Routine mammography offered to women between the ages of 50 and 70 means that more breast cancers are being diagnosed and treated at an early stage.

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