Using AI to Predict the Origins of Unknown Cancer Types
Many cancer patients face a difficult challenge when doctors are unable to determine the origin of their cancer. Without knowing where the cancer originated, it becomes more challenging to choose the right treatment. However, researchers from MIT and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have developed a new approach that utilizes machine learning to predict the origin of tumors with unknown origins.
The Significance of Identifying Unknown Cancer Origins
For around 3 to 5 percent of cancer patients, it is difficult to determine the primary origin of their cancer. In these cases, doctors are unable to prescribe precision drugs that are specifically designed for certain cancer types. Precision drugs are more effective and have fewer side effects compared to broad-spectrum treatments. Therefore, there is a need to identify the origin of these enigmatic cancers.
A Computational Model for Predicting Cancer Origins
The researchers created a computational model using machine learning that analyzes the sequence of approximately 400 genes. By analyzing this genetic information, the model accurately predicts the location where the tumor originated in the body. In a dataset of 900 patients, the model successfully classified at least 40 percent of tumors with unknown origins.
Improving Treatment Decisions for Patients
The most significant finding of this research is that the computational model can aid doctors in making personalized treatment decisions for patients with cancers of unknown primary origin. By predicting the site of origin with high confidence, doctors can guide patients towards targeted treatments that are more effective and have fewer side effects.
Expanding the Model’s Capabilities
The researchers plan to expand their model by incorporating other types of data, such as pathology and radiology images. This comprehensive approach will enhance the model’s ability to predict not only the type of tumor and patient outcome but also the optimal treatment. This research has the potential to significantly improve the treatment options for patients with unknown cancer origins.
Funding for this research comes from the National Institutes of Health, the Louis B. Mayer Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Phi Beta Psi Sorority, and the Emerson Collective.