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How AI is transforming cancer treatment accessibility

Many people know about the Cancer Moonshot, a big, hopeful plan by the U.S. government to slash cancer deaths by 50% before 2047. They’re going to need a whole bunch of smart and caring folks in the healthcare, science, and tech worlds to make it happen.

A whole bunch of folks will be in on this—like the government, doctors, researchers, patients, families, and supporters from both the public and private sides. And one of the key things that can help us get there is artificial intelligence (AI), which is all set to change how we handle cancer.

The moonshot plan has these five big areas it wants to focus on, and AI can totally amp up all of them. But especially in two areas: one where they want to bring the latest cancer stuff to patients and communities, and another where they want to make sure cancer patients are calling the shots in their treatment.

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From surgical solutions to personalized treatments

The story of cancer care has always been about making treatments better through cool new ideas and fixes. Take prostate cancer, for example. Back in the day, they mostly did surgery for serious cases. Then, in the 1940s, they started using hormone therapy too.

Later on, in the swinging sixties and groovy seventies, they came up with this Gleason-scoring thing to understand cancer better. Then, in the 90s, they got even better at classifying the risks. By the late 90s, checking out the genes in the main tumor became a big deal, and it really took off in the 2010s.

Even though these moves were a big deal in making cancer care more personal, it’s been a pretty slow ride, and not everybody got a fair shot. Minorities especially didn’t get the same access to fancy diagnoses and treatments.

The promise of AI in cancer care

AI is way better than the old stuff in a lot of ways. It gets smarter the more data it munches on, so it’s more spot-on and can pick up even the smallest differences between different groups, like ages or races. Plus, it’s quick to set up, works right away, and can be put on the cloud, which you can find pretty much everywhere people live.

With all these pluses, AI can be used all over the place, making sure that everyone gets the best treatment no matter where they are. It’s like supercharging personalized care for way more people than before.

One super exciting thing happening is these new tests that use AI to tell how tumors will grow and whether treatments will work. They use these special smart programs to look at pictures of patient tissue samples and mix that with their medical info.

Then, the doctors can use this info to make a treatment plan just for that person. Sometimes it even means they don’t have to do treatments that might do more harm than good.

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Empowering patient-clinician collaboration

The Moonshot plan to bring cool stuff to patients and communities isn’t just for a lucky bunch, it’s for everyone. AI working for everyone depends on using lots of different kinds of data to make it. When AI learns from diverse patient data, it can give us more valuable info, even for groups that haven’t been well represented before.

Not only does AI aid in lessening health inequalities, but it also acts as a catalyst for stronger patient-clinician dialogue, empowering patients to take the lead in shaping their healthcare journey. How? By giving patients more details about their sickness, which makes them more certain about their treatment. This certainty is key for beating cancer effectively.

Patients have to deal with treatment choices in their bodies and minds. Research shows that an important way to treat cancer is for doctors to make a plan that focuses on the patient and takes into account different parts of their life. Using AI tests, the patient and doctor can look at the information together to decide if the chosen treatment is worth the side effects that might affect the patient’s life.

AI’s contribution to Cancer Moonshot

On the other hand, not getting the therapy’s choices and advantages can make patients feel swamped and less committed to the treatment. This might make them less likely to follow the treatment, which can really hurt their chances of getting better.

AI can really push us closer to the goals of the Cancer Moonshot project by giving us super accurate and complete details on how the disease is changing and how well treatments work, on a bigger scale than ever before.

Though the goals set by the project are really big, we see real progress every day—and we’ve only just begun to see what AI can do in fighting cancer.

Vishal Kawadkar
About author

With over 8 years of experience in tech journalism, Vishal is someone with an innate passion for exploring and delivering fresh takes. Embracing curiosity and innovation, he strives to provide an informed and unique outlook on the ever-evolving world of technology.