An AI Boost for Clinical Trials


Kevin Hughes needed volunteers. It was 1994, and the breast-cancer surgeon was starting a randomized, controlled trial at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He and his colleagues wanted to test the efficacy of a treatment regimen commonly followed by people with a certain type of early-stage breast cancer: surgery followed by the drug tamoxifen and radiation therapy. Despite being an established protocol, it wasn’t clear whether the radiotherapy was beneficial for all women — and, in particular, those who were older.

The researchers sought volunteers over the age of 70 whose tumours were of a particular size and type. Of the roughly 40,000 women in the United States each year who could have qualified, they managed to enroll 636 people.


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