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Aaron Babier (MIE PhD candidate) demonstrates his AI-based software’s visualization capabilities. (Credit: Brian Tran)

Beating cancer is a race against time. Developing radiation therapy plans — individualized maps that help doctors determine where to blast tumors — can take days. Now, artificial intelligence (AI) aims to cut the time down to mere hours.

The software uses AI to mine historical radiation therapy data. This information is then applied to an optimization engine to develop treatment plans. The researchers applied this software tool in their study of 217 patients with throat cancer, who also received treatments developed using conventional methods.

Researchers believe that with further development and validation, healthcare professionals can someday use the tool in the clinic. They maintain, however, that while the AI may give treatment planners a brilliant head start in helping patients, it doesn’t make the trained human mind obsolete. Once the software has created a treatment plan, it would still be reviewed and further customized by a radiation physicist, which could take up to a few hours.

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