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Volpara Utilises AI to Fight Breast Cancer

Volpara Solutions has gained a reputation for saving lives across the globe through artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that are improving breast cancer screening not only to detect breast cancers earlier but also minimize the costs involved.

Recently, the company began backing Auckland-based Mercy Radiology in New Zealand.

In the same country, Volpara penned an agreement in October with BreastScreen Central, its first-ever public sector customer.

According to Volpara, isolating cancers, particularly in ‘dense’ breast tissue, can be challenging since both have a white appearance on X-rays.

Volpara’s Enterprise software, which is developed on Microsoft Azure, utilizes AI objectively and automatically assessing the breast density of a woman to assist in detecting breast cancer at an earlier phase.

By leveraging this data, the company’s clients can spot patients with dense breasts, especially those that are likely to benefit from supplemental imaging like ultrasound.

The outcome is detecting and treating the illness in its initial stages, minimizing the case of “interval cancers” or cancers that emerge between breast screens, and cut down treatment expenses.

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“Before, we were subjectively assessing breast density, but now we have an objective risk-assessment to help us identify those patients that need additional methods of screening to mammography, in order to increase detection of breast cancer,” said Dr Sugania Reddy, a radiologist at Auckland’s Mercy Radiology.

“In patients with high breast density, the mammogram sensitivity is reduced for detection of breast cancer. Using Volpara software, we recognise the need immediately for supplementary screening of these patients and therefore increase our ability the find these cancers at an earlier stage, resulting in an overall better prognosis.”

The analytics software from Volpara leverages Power BI in analyzing the quality of each mammogram.

Access to such analysis aids radiographers in understanding areas where they can fine-tune their approaches in a bid to generate better mammograms.

Volpara’s analytics software oversees over 100 performance metrics in an attempt to guide radiographers on capturing higher-quality images, making screening exercise more comfortable, and improving their positioning skills.

This not only offers quality control, especially for breast screens but also aids in lowering the costs by minimizing the necessity for technical recalls.

Volpara’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Ralph Highnam, was seeking a way to explore his AI interest.

His former Oxford University professor urged him to look for a way to boost the standards of breast screening.

Volpara was the outcome of this effort.

Currently, the company prides itself on being an ASX-listed enterprise, with its solutions being mainly used in private hospitals globally.

Meanwhile, Highnam claims that computer-driven detection is the next impediment that breast screening software developers may face.

“It’s still early days, but this is the next major frontier in combating breast cancer, which we hope will help reduce both global radiologists shortages and waiting lists. Breast cancer affects not only millions of women worldwide but also their families, friends, and colleagues, and we look forward to finding more ways to optimise early detection and treatment.”

Volpara is collaborating with Microsoft through the giant software maker’s Co-Sell programme that is expected to assist in promoting the company to clients all over the world.

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KC Cheung
KC Cheung has over 18 years experience in the technology industry including media, payments, and software and has a keen interest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and its applications in business. Over the years he has worked with some of the leading technology companies, building and growing dynamic teams in a fast moving international environment.
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