MRI and Artificial Intelligence Team Up to Help Beat Cancer Through Early Detection

It is estimated that in 2018, 1,735,350 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the United States alone. Even with the major advancements in treatment options, a cancer diagnosis can strike fear in the heart of anyone faced with the prospect of having to deal with a potentially-terminal condition. In an age where technology and innovation are advancing at an amazing pace, teaming the advances in AI with that of magnetic resonance imagery (MRI), makes for a powerful diagnostic tool. The advancements in such technologies have provided the medical community another way to detect the presence of cancer. The technology is constantly evolving, with the major challenge being the strength of the magnetic field, but it is steadily improving and bringing clearer and better defined images to patients and caregivers globally.

By conducting a full body scan, an MRI can detect cancer in all of the body’s major organs. Undoubtedly, the best use of this technology is in early detection. It is a non-invasive procedure where AI does the work. A full body scan will include scanning the brain, thyroid, lungs, liver, kidneys, gallbladder, pancreas, bladder, lymph nodes, and multiple myeloma. For men, the prostate is included, and for women, the breasts, ovaries and uterus are also scanned. Unlike the CT scan, the technology used does not involve any radiation and provides significantly clearer images than an ultrasound. Some scans will also provide body mass and bone density data. After the scan, which usually costs between $500 and $2000 depending on whether it is a full or partial scan, the results are read by a radiologist and provided to the patient in about three days. 

Early detection can greatly increase the chances of treatment success. Clinical studies suggest that in the case of 68 percent of individuals where the MRI found anomalies, required followup imaging concluded that body scanning on a regular basis can play a major role in the early detection of clinically relevant diseases. With that said, this advance in medical technology offers advantages beyond early detection. A body scan for cancer can become part of a regular health maintenance program. Having a scan done once a year is usually sufficient and reasonable for a healthy person. However, those who have had cancer or a history of cancer in their family may choose to have it done more often. 

Having an MRI scan for prostate cancer detection is always good practice. According to the American Urological Association, a panel of scientists concluded that men ages 55 and older should be screened for prostate cancer, but that does not preclude younger men from having the scan done. In fact, it is recommended to get screened regularly even without having noticed any of the disease’s signs or symptoms. Additionally, a full body scan can detect any of the more common types of cancers, such as breast cancer in women, early enough that treatment is much easier and the odds of success and complete remission is possible. In some cases, early detection means the cancerous tissue can be removed completely. 

Technology continues to play a growing role in our daily lives. From aerospace, internet, to artificial intelligence (AI), it has enhanced and revolutionized the human experience. Technology has also played a prominent role in the enrichment of medicine, offering caregivers and patients the tools and resources needed to live longer, healthier lives. Living in a world where it is all but impossible to avoid carcinogens or other cancer-causing agents, early detection through technology could very well be the key to survival itself.