Jeffrey De Fauw Machine learning / AI research
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International evaluation of an AI system for breast cancer screening

Overview of the methodology of the paper.

Overview of the methodology of the paper. We consider two main datasets, one from the UK and one from the US. We evaluate with retrospective clinical performance as well as an independently conducted reader study. We also investigate the transfer of performance between continents.

We demonstrate an AI system that can detect breast cancer better than human experts on a large, representative UK dataset and a dataset from the US, in the context of breast cancer screening programmes.
Nature article
Open-access link
DeepMind author’s note

Scott Mayer McKinney*, Marcin Sieniek*, Varun Godbole*, Jonathan Godwin*, Natasha Antropova, Hutan Ashrafian, Trevor Back, Mary Chesus, Greg C. Corrado, Ara Darzi, Mozziyar Etemadi, Florencia Garcia-Vicente, Fiona J. Gilbert, Mark Halling-Brown, Demis Hassabis, Sunny Jansen, Alan Karthikesalingam, Christopher J. Kelly, Dominic King, Joseph R. Ledsam, David Melnick, Hormuz Mostofi, Lily Peng, Joshua Jay Reicher, Bernardino Romera-Paredes, Richard Sidebottom, Mustafa Suleyman, Daniel Tse, Kenneth C. Young, Jeffrey De Fauw** & Shravya Shetty**
* equal contribution
** jointly supervised the work


Screening mammography aims to identify breast cancer at earlier stages of the disease, when treatment can be more successful1. Despite the existence of screening programmes worldwide, the interpretation of mammograms is affected by high rates of false positives and false negatives2. Here we present an artificial intelligence (AI) system that is capable of surpassing human experts in breast cancer prediction. To assess its performance in the clinical setting, we curated a large representative dataset from the UK and a large enriched dataset from the USA. We show an absolute reduction of 5.7% and 1.2% (USA and UK) in false positives and 9.4% and 2.7% in false negatives. We provide evidence of the ability of the system to generalize from the UK to the USA. In an independent study of six radiologists, the AI system outperformed all of the human readers: the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC-ROC) for the AI system was greater than the AUC-ROC for the average radiologist by an absolute margin of 11.5%. We ran a simulation in which the AI system participated in the double-reading process that is used in the UK, and found that the AI system maintained non-inferior performance and reduced the workload of the second reader by 88%. This robust assessment of the AI system paves the way for clinical trials to improve the accuracy and efficiency of breast cancer screening.