A study carried out by the Maastricht University Medical Hospital in Norway found that a computer was consistently better at predicting future symptoms of patients with lung cancer after they followed a course of radiotherapy or chemotherapy than the doctors responsible for their care.
The computer model of lung cancer was fed the personal medical details and treatment history of each patient in a group of 21 lung cancer suffers.
Scientists at the university used the computer models to determine how many patients from the group would survive for two years, how many would experience difficulties with breathing and how many would find it hard to swallow.
The computer model proved significantly better than the patient’s own doctors at making the correct prognosis for all three outcomes, with the doctor’s prognosis being little better than what would expected from chance.
Dr Cary Oberije from the Netherlands university, speaking to The Telegraph, said; "If models based on a patient, tumour and treatment characteristics already outperform the doctors, then it is unethical to make treatment decisions based solely on the doctors’ opinion.
"We believe models should be implemented in clinical practice to guide decisions."
It has already been established by other scientists that cancer tumours can vary between patients and therefore different types of treatment may be suitable depending on a patient’s genes.
It is thought computer models could become increasingly important in patient treatment as more data on patient is collected, such as their genetic makeup.
Dr Oberije added; "We know that there are many factors that play a role in the prognosis of patients and prediction models can combine them all."
Image: Computers could be used more in the treatment of cancer suffers in the near future. Photo: Courtesy of Mikhail Popov.