Artificial intelligence can identify skin cancer in photographs with the same accuracy as trained doctors, say scientists.  The Stanford University team said the findings were “incredibly exciting” and would now be tested in clinics. Eventually, they believe using AI could revolutionise healthcare by turning anyone’s smartphone into a cancer scanner. Cancer Research UK said it could become a useful tool for doctors. The AI was repurposed from software developed by Google that had learned to spot the difference between images of cats and dogs. it was shown 129,450 photographs and told what type of skin condition it was looking at in each one.  It then learned to spot the hallmarks of the most common type of skin cancer: carcinoma, and the most deadly: melanoma. Only one in 20 skin cancers are melanoma, yet the tumour accounts for three-quarters of skin cancer deaths. The experiment, detailed in the journal Nature, then tested the AI against 21 trained skin cancer doctors. One of the researchers, Dr Andre Esteva, told the BBC News website: “We find, in general, that we are on par with board-certified dermatologists.” However, the computer software cannot make a full diagnosis, as this is normally confirmed with a tissue biopsy. Dr Esteva said the system now needed to be tested alongside doctors in the clinic. “The application of AI to healthcare is, we believe, an incredibly exciting area of research that can be leveraged to achieve a great deal of societal good,” he said.

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