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Are Computers Replacing Doctors in Cancer Treatment?


Posted on Mar 30, 2014

New technology advances the idea that computers can prescribe you a treatment plan for your cancer. Physicians will enter data into a particular software that will then give a medication outline for the patient.

The New York Times reports on the software.

Will a computer be treating your cancer in the future or a physician? It might be an amalgamation of the two sources.

“Some cancer scientists are trying to open the bottleneck with the help of computers. They’re writing software that can read scientific reports and glean their insights. The New York Genome Center has now joined this movement. It’s enlisting Watson, a computer developed by IBM that first came to fame in 2011 when it defeated human contestants on the game show ‘Jeopardy’. Since its television victory, Watson has turned its attention to medicine. Its reading list includes the study abstracts stored in Medline, a federal government index,” according to The Times.

The software is said to have around twenty-three million relevant abstracts now. The Times explains how the software will be used to help patients, “For a pilot study, Dr. Darnell and his colleagues will use Watson to help them come up with personalized treatments for a type of brain cancer known as glioblastoma. They chose the disease because forms of it are so devastating.”

The study will be confined to suffering glioblastoma patients who normally only have a year to live. “In the new study, the scientists will initially recruit 20 patients. They will sequence genomes from tumor biopsies and feed that data (along with the sequences of healthy cells from the patients) to Watson. Watson will identify the mutations in the tumor and draw on its medical knowledge to develop a hypothesis for how they cause cancer. It will then put together a list of drugs that could potentially treat the cancer. ‘All of this is being done in seconds to minutes,’ said Dr. Royyuru,” according to The Times.

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Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer