The accuracy of skin cancer diagnoses can be improved by combining the independent opinions of multiple dermatologists. These findings have emerged from a collaborative study among researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries. The results have been published in the journal JAMA Dermatology.
The study found that combining the opinions of just three independent medical professionals was enough to outperform the best individual decision maker.
The accuracy of diagnoses continued to improve as the number of opinions increased, stabilizing at a group size of around 10. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries investigated how dermatologists’ diagnoses of skin cancer can be improved by using collective intelligence methods, also known as swarm intelligence.
“We studied how social systems in nature — such as swarms of fish — process information and investigated how those insights can be used to improve human decision-making processes,“ says Max Wolf of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries.
The researchers used two independent data sets in their study. A total of 102 dermatologists and other medical professionals made 16,029 diagnoses of skin lesions, which were presented as high-resolution images on an online platform.
The researchers compared the rates of correct and incorrect diagnoses made by individual decision makers with the results of two collective intelligence rules that combine the independent assessments of multiple raters: the majority rule and the quorum rule.
Whereas the majority rule implies that a diagnosis holds whenever the majority of group members come to the same conclusion, the quorum rule requires a certain number of group members to share the same opinion.
“Using the rules of swarm intelligence can make skin cancer diagnoses more accurate,” says Ralf Kurvers, lead author of the study and researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. The number of misdiagnoses — that is, the number of false positives and false negatives — also decreased.
The study’s authors are aware that this approach implies extra viewing time for physicians, who would have to assess not only the skin lesions of their own patients but also those of their colleagues. But they argue that computer-based support systems enabling the presentation and evaluation of skin lesions via online platforms or tailored software can keep this work manageable.
The relevance of this pioneering approach is underlined by comparable findings from another study recently published by the authors, in which they examined the use of swarm intelligence methods in breast cancer screening. In a next step, the researchers aim to find out how group diversity impacts collective accuracy.
Kurvers, R. H. J. M, Krause, J., Argenziano, G., Zalaudek, I., & Wolf, M. (2015). Detection accuracy of collective intelligence assessments for skin cancer diagnosis. JAMA Dermatology, 151(12), 1–8. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.3149
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
The Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin was founded in 1963. It is an interdisciplinary research institution dedicated to the study of human development and education. The Institute belongs to the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, one of the leading organizations for basic research in Europe.
Nicole Siller | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
Improving memory with magnets
28.03.2017 | McGill University
Graphene-based neural probes probe brain activity in high resolution
28.03.2017 | Graphene Flagship
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences
28.03.2017 | Information Technology
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy