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Computers could read mammograms more accurately than humans

A computer plus one medical expert are as effective at spotting breast cancer as the two experts usually used to read a mammogram.

Research suggests that computer-aided detection found 198 out of 227 cancers, compared with 199 from human double-reading, in the Cancer Research UK study involving 28,000 women.

Professor Stephen Duffy, Cancer Research UK's professor of cancer screening, said earlier studies had conflicting results about the success of the computer-aided readings.

He said: "We can now say for certain that this system is as good at detecting breast cancer as the one used as standard practice."

Maria Leadbeater, of Breast Cancer Care, said the system would have to be closely monitored if introduced into clinical practice.

"We know from supporting women with breast cancer or breast health concerns that delays in access to routine screening can cause great anxiety. Any measures which could reduce these delays would be very welcome."

In the US and some other European countries only a single expert reads mammograms. The researchers say computers could aid detection in these countries.

The results will be presented at the National Cancer Research Institute's annual conference in Birmingham.

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