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Press release - 9/24/2001

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DENVER, CO, September 24, 2001. A new web site can now forecast the medical future for men with prostate disease. The site, prostatecalculator.org, uses online calculators and a kind of artificial intelligence, called artificial neural networks (ANNs), to address various prostate cancer-related conditions. The calculators "learn" and make prognoses by comparing each patient's characteristics with a database of information from hundreds or thousands of other patients.

A visitor to the web site -- a patient or doctor -- begins by entering the relevant information, such as patient age and tumor stage, into one of the easy-to-use calculators. Moments later, the calculator provides a prognosis: the overall likelihood of the patient's survival in the coming years, the chance of the cancer spreading beyond the man's prostate, or the chance that the cancer will recur after surgical treatment. Visitors also have access to informative cancer-related articles and illustrations, and their privacy is respected. The site does not collect personal information.

While the web site uses ANNs -- the first to do so -- for the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of prostate cancer, according to project director Dr. E. David Crawford, it is meant to complement doctors, not substitute for them. Says Crawford, "Neural networks are not intended to replace doctors, and never could. They're like CT scans and other diagnostic tests that help physicians care for their patients. Since no one test is perfect, predictions must be incorporated with other data to make informed treatment decisions."

According to Crawford, neural networks are an exciting new medical field. "Our collaboration with researchers across the globe is enabling us to use increasingly larger data sets that in turn improve our models' accuracy and render them more useful. We are currently developing models that will help us predict which treatment option will be best for a particular patient and designing a system that will identify cancer using ultrasound images. Our research is focused on creating superior tools for doctors' use."

Crawford continues, "The accuracy of new techniques such as artificial intelligence is under close scrutiny by the medical community. Our results are thoroughly analyzed using time-proven statistical techniques and then published in peer-reviewed medical journals. We also continuously validate our models as new data becomes available. We believe our work has great potential to benefit patients everywhere."

About Artificial Neural Networks

Artificial neural networks are a form of artificial intelligence that simulates the functioning of the human brain to solve problems. ANNs have been used in engineering, meteorology, and, now, in medicine. Several studies have been conducted that suggest that ANNs can supplement traditional statistical methods that are currently in use.

About ANNs in CaP

The prostatecalculator.org web site was produced by the Artificial Neural Networks in Prostate Cancer (ANNs in CaP) Project. Based in Denver, this research collaboration is headed by leading prostate-cancer expert Dr. E. David Crawford and funded by the Institute for Clinical Research in Washington, DC. Under the guidance of Dr. Crawford, national and international authorities in the fields of prostate cancer and artificial intelligence are working together to investigate the use of ANNs in the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of prostate cancer. The project web site can be found at www.annsincap.org.

 


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Accessed on 25 March 2019.