How AI is bringing new options to mammograms, other breast cancer screenings

How AI is changing breast cancer screenings

How AI is changing breast cancer screenings


Artificial intelligence is transforming the health world in more ways than one, including as an additional tool in breast cancer screenings.

Physicians assisted by AI in mammography screening detected 20% more cancers, according to preliminary results from a study out earlier this year. And AI could help predict outcomes in invasive breast cancer, research from Northwestern Medicine published in the Nature Medicine journal Monday found, potentially making it possible to spare breast cancer patients unnecessary chemotherapy treatments.

For Tehillah Harris, these additional tools mean an extra set of eyes, especially as someone with a family history. She was only 32 when her mother died of breast cancer. 

“My mom was very concerned about my level of risk,” says Harris, who gets screened regularly at Mount Sinai in New York, where AI is used to assist reading mammograms and breast sonograms. “The doctor said they have this new technology, and would I be interested? I’m like, sure, sign me up.”

Dr. Laurie Margolies, the director of breast imaging at Mount Sinai, demonstrated for CBS News how AI analyzes mammograms and sorts them into three levels of risk: low, intermediate and elevated.

AI is also being used to read breast sonograms — in one instance CBS News viewed, it only took a few seconds for the tool to make its analysis — though a radiologist also reads the scans.

“I think AI is here to help us in the same way that 30 years ago the magnifying glass helped us,” Margolies says, adding she doesn’t see the technology replacing human doctors. 

“AI is not there to be empathetic. It just gives an opinion,” she says. “It may not know somebody’s family history in the future, and it certainly can’t provide that hug.”

While Harris welcomed the new screening tools, she also isn’t ready to say goodbye to her doctors.

“You want someone to come and explain it to you, and if needed, hold your hand,” she says.

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