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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Jan 02, 2024  1 month, 3 weeks, 1 day, 19 hours, 24 minutes ago

AI In Medicine: Singaporean And Thai Researchers Explore Using AI To Diagnose Hepatocellular Carcinoma Earlier And More Accurately!

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AI In Medicine: Singaporean And Thai Researchers Explore Using AI To Diagnose Hepatocellular Carcinoma Earlier And More Accurately!
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Jan 02, 2024  1 month, 3 weeks, 1 day, 19 hours, 24 minutes ago
AI In Medicine: Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC), a prevalent form of liver cancer, continues to pose a significant global health challenge, contributing substantially to cancer-related mortality worldwide. Recent statistics from the Global Cancer Observatory have illuminated a disturbing upward trend in HCC rates, particularly prominent in North Africa and East Asia. The imperative to detect and treat HCC at its nascent stages, where curative therapies like surgical resection and liver transplants hold promise, necessitates a paradigm shift in diagnostic approaches.

In a groundbreaking stride, researchers from the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Chiang Mai University-Thailand and the National University Hospital-Singapore have embarked on a transformative journey, exploring the immense potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to redefine the landscape of HCC diagnosis. This AI In Medicine news report seeks to delve into the intricate details of their research, unraveling the multifaceted applications of AI, particularly in deep learning (DL) and neural networks, to pioneer earlier and more accurate HCC detection.
The Current Diagnostic Landscape
The Barcelona Classification of Liver Cancer (BCLC) has long served as the beacon guiding treatment decisions for HCC, considering tumor characteristics and liver function indicators. However, the conventional diagnostic methods such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) testing and ultrasounds, while widely employed, fall short in terms of sensitivity and specificity. The consequence is delayed detection, often leading to restricted treatment options and compromised patient outcomes. The pressing need for a more effective and precise diagnostic modality has driven researchers to explore the vast potential of AI in revolutionizing HCC diagnosis.
Advancements in AI for HCC Diagnosis
Recent strides in AI, particularly in DL and neural networks, offer a glimmer of hope for enhancing HCC diagnosis. These AI models possess the unique ability to sift through vast datasets of imaging information, identifying subtle patterns that might elude the human eye. The promise lies in their capacity to provide objective and consistent results, potentially mitigating diagnostic variability, optimizing data analysis, and redefining the allocation of healthcare resources.

The Role of AI in Diagnosis
The deployment of AI in HCC diagnosis assumes three critical roles, each with far-reaching implications: reducing diagnostic variability, reallocating healthcare resources, and optimizing data analysis. Diagnostic variability, often a product of diverse radiological, histological, and cytological parameters, is particularly pronounced in the radiological identification of HCC. AI, with its empirical analysis, ensures an objective interpretation of images, eliminating the influence of factors such as experience, workflow variability, and patient-specific characteristics. The non-biological nature of AI contributes to consistent and standardized analyses, regardless of the operator, time, or patient load.
Reallocation of healthcare resources finds its fo undation in the consistent and empirical performance of AI. Preliminary studies using AI for interpreting ultrasound videos have demonstrated significantly higher detection rates compared to non-radiologist physicians. The potential here is not to replace clinicians but to augment their diagnostic capabilities, particularly for less experienced or non-radiology trained practitioners. By serving as a reliable diagnostic tool, AI can alleviate the burden on healthcare professionals and enhance overall diagnostic efficiency.
Optimizing Data Analysis
AI's prowess in data analysis extends beyond image interpretation. The integration of AI with information systems facilitates a comprehensive analysis of patient data, paving the way for more informed and reliable diagnoses. Recent applications of AI in conjunction with imaging technologies have shown promise in differentiating common liver lesions, including HCC, haemangiomas, and metastatic tumors.
Current Applications of AI in HCC Diagnosis
Beyond image interpretation, researchers are actively exploring diverse applications of AI in HCC diagnosis, heralding a new era in precision medicine. Personalized medicine tools powered by AI are being developed, aiming to tailor treatments based on individual patient characteristics. The integration of AI with various imaging technologies, such as ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRIs, holds tremendous potential for enhanced diagnostic accuracy. Furthermore, AI is being explored for monitoring treatment responses, allowing for dynamic adjustments to therapeutic strategies.
Risk-score prediction models, another facet of AI application, have emerged as a promising avenue. In a recent model developed, AI incorporated ultrasound images and ten baseline parameters were used to effectively predict the risk of HCC in patients with hepatitis B. This integration of imaging and patient parameters showcases the multifaceted capabilities of AI in risk stratification and disease prediction.
Challenges and Future Directions
While the outlook for AI in HCC diagnosis is promising, the integration of AI into healthcare practices comes with its set of challenges. The absence of standardized regulations governing the application of AI in HCC diagnostics emphasizes the need for AI-specific quality assessment tools and guidelines. Current studies often lack prospective evidence on the effectiveness of AI models in real-world clinical settings, and the majority remain retrospective.
The challenges extend to the standardization of study design, quality assessment of datasets, and the availability of large datasets. The absence of consensus on the feasibility of AI in large-scale HCC radiomics and the lack of standardized approaches for reporting and interpreting results underscore the nascent stage of AI application in this domain.
The quality assessment of datasets used for training and validation is pivotal for the accuracy of AI models. Efforts to standardize imaging workflows and evaluate optimal radiological features are crucial for ensuring the reliability of AI-based diagnostic systems. Techniques such as untrainable data cleansing, aimed at automatically detecting and excluding poor-quality data in a training set, hold promise but require further evaluation, especially in the context of HCC radiomics.
The scarcity of large, public datasets poses a challenge to the widespread adoption of AI in HCC diagnosis. While some sources have made their datasets publicly available, concerns regarding cross-compatibility between hospital information systems, data safety and security, and economic costs must be addressed.
In conclusion, the collaborative efforts of researchers from Singapore and Thailand have unveiled a promising frontier in the diagnosis of Hepatocellular Carcinoma through the integration of Artificial Intelligence.
The multifaceted applications of AI, ranging from image interpretation to personalized medicine and risk stratification, hold the potential to transform HCC management.
While challenges persist, ongoing research and clinical implementation of AI models are imperative to fully realize this potential. The journey towards integrating AI into routine clinical practice marks a significant milestone in the fight against Hepatocellular Carcinoma. As we navigate through the intricacies of AI application in HCC diagnosis, the future appears bright, offering a beacon of hope for improved healthcare outcomes and enhanced precision in managing this formidable form of liver cancer. The continued dedication to research and the establishment of standardized guidelines will undoubtedly pave the way for the widespread integration of AI into routine clinical practice.
The Research review was published in the peer reviewed journal: eGastroenterology. (BMJ)
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