Artificial Intelligence – The Future of Cervical Cancer Detection

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cervix. The cancer can be treated if it is found early. Despite this, it is still a significant threat to women in Africa, the continent with 19 of the 20 countries where cervical cancer is most often seen. Advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) aim to help better detect and manage cervical cancer, allowing for women in Africa to have better outcomes. AI consists of machines that are able to copy human intelligence, making it very powerful when applied to healthcare.


Read on to find out more about how cervical cancer healthcare is benefitting from AI developments!


How is Cervical Cancer detected?


Normally, cervical cancer detection involves a process called a Pap smear. This involves collecting cells from the cervix and viewing them underneath a microscope to look for abnormal cells that may indicate cancer.  Doing this often allows for cervical cancer to be detected early. Though traditional Pap smears are useful, they take a long time and require trained staff. Also, the microscopes used are incredibly expensive. This makes it difficult for healthcare authorities to deliver reliable Pap smear services.


How is Artificial Intelligence helping detect Cervical Cancer?


Recently, AI systems have been used to replace traditional Pap smear analysis. For example, PapsAI is a digital platform created by Ugandan biomedical engineer, William Wasswa. Wasswa developed a digital microscope slide scanner that can quickly scan Pap smear slides. It can then analyse the images to detect cancer. Tests show that this technology has 90-100% accuracy! This analysis tool allows for Pap smear results to be determined much faster than it would take a human to analyse. This means that more women would be able to benefit from screening. PapsAI is also a lot cheaper than the microscopes usually used in Pap smears because the parts for devices are 3D printed by Wasswa himself. This makes PapsAI a great candidate to replace traditional Pap smear methods, especially in resource-limited areas.


PapsAI software can also make patient management more efficient. Its cutting-edge software can be personalised to a patient’s needs. It is able to predict the likelihood of a patient developing cervical cancer, using information about their lifestyle and health. This makes PapsAI very efficient as it can also be used to inform patients about their own health.


What is the future for Artificial Intelligence in cancer healthcare?


PapsAI is a very promising development, with the technology being a finalist in the 2020 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. There is lots of hope that this AI could revolutionise healthcare, not only in Africa but worldwide!  It is currently being tested at a hospital in Uganda and there is belief that the software will be able to provide a reliable solution to the high rates of cervical cancer at an affordable price!



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