Metro Health debuts breast cancer detection technology

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — When Gwennan Engen isn’t with her family, she’s using her time to study ICAD, a new artificial intelligence software that detects breast cancer.

“That gives us a lot of hope,” said Engen.

Metro Health is the only hospital in the West Michigan using the technology. The Wyoming hospital started offering it to patients last month.

As a nurse at Metro Health, Engen reviewed her own mammogram with the software and realized her role switched from researcher to patient.

“It was very shocking. There are some days I still can’t believe I have this cancer diagnosis,” she said.

Dr. Mark Traill studied ICAD with Engen for months. He detected her breast cancer in its early stages.

“When I find one of these things early, I really feel good,” said Traill a Metro Health radiologist specializing in breast imaging. “When you have mom with kids, that gets a diagnosis like this, it’s a disaster.”

ICAD is a computer program that reviews imaging from a mammogram and identifies abnormalities by circling lesions in the breast. The software also calculates a percentage that tells doctors how likely the lesions are cancerous.

“With this, I’m able to sleep at night more,” said Traill.

Traill said ICAD tells radiologists exactly where to look for cancer, but as with any form technology, it’s not perfect.

“It can fail. It can fail in a big way,” he cautioned.

Software developers must load thousands of images into the program and manually label the cancerous abnormalities themselves. Traill said this continuous process teaches ICAD how to find malignant tumors on its own.

“The more you teach it, the better it gets,” he explained.

Traill said there is a possibility the software could misread something.

“That’s why you’re not going to see this running on its own. It’s going to still have a human,” he explained.

ICAD is added security for doctors, patients and researches like Engen, helping them see what doesn’t always meet the eye.

“God has given me the strength to get through this so far,” said Engen.

Traill said ICAD is FDA-approved and does not cost patients any extra money during their visit. Currently the software only specializes in breast cancer detection.