Artificial Intelligence Can Help Assess Lung Cancer Risk in Nonsmokers

Using AI to Predict Lung Cancer Risk for Nonsmokers

AI could predict the risk of lung cancer for nonsmokers.

News Picture: AI Could Predict a Nonsmoker’s Risk for Lung Cancer

Lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer death, is usually associated with smoking. However, between 10% and 20% of lung cancers occur in individuals who have never smoked or have smoked very little. The difficulty lies in predicting the risk of lung cancer in these nonsmokers. But fear not, because artificial intelligence (AI) has come to the rescue!

A groundbreaking study has revealed that an AI program called “CXR-Lung-Risk” can evaluate routine chest X-ray images to determine patterns associated with lung cancer. According to the researchers, individuals whose X-rays were flagged by the AI program had twice the risk of developing lung cancer compared to those whose images were deemed low-risk. Now, that’s a powerful tool!

“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,” said Dr. Michael Lu, the director of artificial intelligence and co-director of the Cardiovascular Imaging Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. Imagine using a simple chest X-ray to identify those at risk, rather than relying solely on smoking history.

But wait, there’s more! The best part is that this approach only requires a single chest X-ray image, which is one of the most common tests in medicine and widely available in electronic medical records. Talk about convenience!

The AI model was developed using a massive dataset of over 147,000 chest X-rays from both smokers and nonsmokers. After learning the lung cancer patterns from these X-rays, the AI’s abilities were put to the test on a group of 17,400 never-smokers who had routine outpatient chest X-rays. The AI flagged about 28% of these individuals as high risk for lung cancer, and it successfully identified 2.9% of them who were later diagnosed with the disease. That’s impressive!

In fact, the AI’s performance surpassed the risk threshold of 1.3% for lung cancer screening CT recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines. This means that the AI program could potentially identify individuals who might benefit from further testing and early intervention.

Now, you might be wondering, why is this even necessary? Well, as smoking rates decline, it becomes increasingly important to detect lung cancer early in nonsmokers. Lung cancer remains a major health burden in the United States, with 240,000 new cases and over 127,000 deaths expected this year alone.

So, here’s the bottom line: AI could be a game-changer in the early detection of lung cancer. By using existing chest X-rays, this technology has the potential to identify those at high risk, even among nonsmokers. It’s a ray of hope in the fight against this deadly disease.

But, remember, while this study is promising, it’s important to wait for the findings to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Nonetheless, the future looks bright and AI is leading the way towards a healthier tomorrow.

More information The American Cancer Society has more about lung cancer.

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