Les Raff “gives people cancer” … sort of …

Here is a link to a clever article by a pathologist in the Chicago suburbs who spends a lot of his working days deciding whether he can or can’t see prostate cancer cells in the biopsy samples sent to his laboratory. It makes a good read.

Editorial note: Thanks to Howard Wolinksy for bringing this article to our attention this morning.

5 Responses

  1. We read here that biopsies can be quite subjective. This highlights advice often provided by patient advocates … it is often wise to consider a second opinion on your biopsy.

    While second opinions can be a smart move, we also have to take into account whether the result will change a treatment decision. One place where it can impact significantly is the duration of accompanying ADT with radiation. For example, downgrading a 4 + 4 to a 4 + 3 may, in the view of the radiation oncologist, reduce ADT from 18+ months to < 9 months.

  2. I wonder whether a machine-learning-enabled computer can be developed, and after a period of apprenticeship with Dr Epstein (on several thousand cases), used to give Gleason scores. No bleary eyes; no forgetting the templates; no influence by what was seen previously. I know judgment is involved, but can’t a computer learn to make those judgments? It would seem to be worth a trial.

  3. Allen:

    I suspect there are a lot of things like this that the IT community is looking into very hard.

  4. Doctors use computer-aided detection for identifying mammograms. Doctor runs program on scan, areas highlighted by software that appear similar to recognized cancer characteristics, doctor reviews scan to confirm, deny, or seek more confidence/other options.

  5. Nice post.

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