October was breast cancer awareness month, a month dedicated to bringing awareness and support to the women and men battling this disease. While our business is cloud-based Security and Compliance, we service both Government and Healthcare, and Cancer is something that we have all experienced either directly or indirectly. The month is embraced by various organizations showing support and raising awareness – sports teams wear pink uniforms, people wear pink ribbons, and organizations host fundraising events.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, second to lung cancer. Every year, approximately 252,710 women and 2,470 men in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer. One in eight women will receive the diagnosis in their lifetime and every 13 minutes a woman will lose her battle with breast cancer . While scientists and researchers continue to work in search of accurate detection methods and new treatment options, technology may hold the answers.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a useful tool in healthcare. Researchers are using AI to detect diseases and create new treatment options for some cancers. Google has developed an AI, called Lymph Node Assistance (LYNA), to help detect secondary cancer cells and other irregular formations in breast cancer patients. Doctors using LYNA can inspect cancer scans in half the time and with 99 percent accuracy, resulting in clearer diagnoses . This AI is not meant to replace pathologists but to work with and help them detect cancer cells. Not only are more accurate detection methods arising, but some systems are compiling data to discover new medicines more quickly. An AI, known as a neural network, will allow pharmaceutical companies and academic labs to work together to create medications faster. AI studies what proteins interact with what drugs to predict new drug-protein interactions, ultimately leading to faster drug development. This system is also able to identify potential side-effects, discovering if a drug interacts with unintended proteins .
Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly common in medical and healthcare practices. In the past, systems like this created a challenge because many organizations did not share information due to intellectual property concerns and maintaining privacy protocol. However, AI can crowdsource individual’s information while keeping all the information private thanks to a cryptographic system created by MIT researchers. “The network leverages modern cryptographic tools and optimization techniques to keep the input data private, while running quickly and efficiently at scale .” They hope that this will encourage more pharmaceutical and research organizations to get involved to grow their information pool.
Privacy and security are essential in healthcare and very important to patients. Just this past July, a doctor in New Zealand lost a folder containing highly sensitive information about breast cancer patients. The file contained names, ages, ethnicities, screening information, diagnoses, and treatment plans for 26 women. In the modern age, most information of this nature is stored digitally, a step the hospital was working towards . Although digital documents and information are more secure, technology is prone to malfunction, so company’s like Project Hosts provides managed security and compliance in Microsoft Azure. The privacy of health records and information should not be something that breast cancer patients need worry about.
Breast cancer awareness month has had a great impact on the breast cancer community. During the month of October, Google searches related to breast cancer rise, fundraising efforts increase leading to increased funding for research, and individuals learn valuable information that they pass onto their family and friends. With this increased awareness, medical advancements, and early detection, deaths due to breast cancer have been declining. There are over 3.3 million breast cancer survivors in the United States today .
Not only does October raise awareness for those currently battling and those who have lost the battle with breast cancer, it also educates individuals on symptoms and encourages people to take the necessary steps to get and remain healthy. Women should know the signs of breast cancer, know their family’s medical history, and have regular mammograms. Simply spreading awareness and information about breast cancer is beneficial.
To learn more about breast cancer or the ways in which you can get involved, visit www.nationalbreastcancer.org