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Kenji Yamanami: Minimizing the risk of breast cancer with Smart Opinion's AI tech

Kenji Yamanami
The Executive Headlines

Mankind has been haunted by cancer for ages. We are still working on a cure for this terminal disease that has cost various lives. If we look at the data, in the last three decades breast cancer has emerged as the most prevalent form of malignant disease, which is surpassing even its lung counterpart on a global scale. Breast cancer has tripled the number of deaths 30 years ago and is now a disease that affects 1 in 11 people. The situation is similar in Japan, where there has been a rise in breast cancer cases. Though Japan accounts for higher breast cancer rates as compared to the West these days, their cancer screening rates are also comparably lower with only 44% while the West has a range of 70%. The low screening numbers are adding to the high mortality rates associated with cancer in general.

Conversely, breast cancer has surprisingly high survival rates—if caught early. And, while mammography tends to be the go-to option for breast cancer detection, it occasionally misses out on cancerous growth in the earliest stages or gives rise to false screening, owing to the prevalence of harmless dense spread among various women.

Kenji Yamanami (Founder and CEO of Smart Opinion) encountered the issue first-hand when his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the course, he learned a lot about the disease and witnessed the difficulty associated with proper and timely diagnosis. Being a tech scholar, he had applied AI to research the human brain in graduate school, while consulting with his doctor friend, he suggested using AI-assisted ultrasound imaging for breast cancer detection. Later, Kenji pondered its applicability from viewpoints of technology. Having a breakthrough, he partnered with a leading Japanese tech company specializing in deep tech programming to research the idea. This collaboration laid the foundation of Smart Opinion as a tech company, which delivered innovative AI diagnostic imaging to aid the early detection of breast cancer. “Our AI solution gives us the lead in breast cancer screening with ultrasound imaging,” says Yamanami.


Next-gen Telemedicine Platform


Smart Opinion is a cloud-based, next-gen telemedicine platform that comes with a state-of-art AI engine that allows doctors and radiotherapists to make an accurate diagnosis of breast cancer even at the earliest stages in a fast and efficient manner. Due to the encouraging research results published in acclaimed journals, Smart Opinion can proficiently detect both benign and malignant tumors. It is also capable of eliminating false-positive results in breast cancer screening where nine out of ten cases of detailed examinations are negative today. This heightened accuracy with AI capabilities has made Smart Opinion a reliable platform for patients. The patients are relieved and less worried about waiting out for their screening results post-biopsy for suspected cancer. Smart Opinion also promotes re-detection through regular screenings to ensure better survival rates among breast cancer patients. 

Smart Opinion is not only enhancing accuracy in screening results, but the AI-assisted solution aims to supplement primary mammography screening—ideal for detecting non-invasive ductal carcinoma in-situ (DCIS),  at detecting invasive breast cancer as early as stage 1 when survival rate retains high near 95%, while cancerous tumors grow by one or two centimeters per year in many cases. 


Faster and Accurate Results


Amongst the other player in the industry, it is astonishing that Smart Opinion’s solution does not require any additional device or hardware. The solution is easy to implement in hospitals and it enables their doctors to simply drag and drop the medical scans onto the platform to start the screening process. Alongside, the medical imaging solution hosted on the cloud, the platform allows seamless integration with the AI engine. This further enables the doctors to access the aid for ultrasound scans faster and perform the screening without even requiring them to drag and drop the scanned images onto the platform from their on-premise systems. All these functions ensure faster and more accurate visualization of results and facilitate the quick sharing of the same with patients over the web. 


Lessening the burden amid crisis


Technology has been a greater aid amid the pandemic. Despite the burden on the healthcare industry, the providers were swift to help the majority struggling with rising cases. Smart Opinion was also quick to develop a solution that assisted the hospitals in controlling their patient footfall and help clinicians offer online medical care to patients—is accessible to both patients and doctors as a web application. The solution is less dependent on devices making it easy to update, giving both the doctors and patients the liberty to engage in consulting sessions online eliminating the need for hospital visits for patients. 

Smart Opinion has designed the solution to accommodate hospital operations such as booking online medical appointments and holding face-to-face, online, or hybrid medical examinations with an easily navigable web-based user interface, the platform makes booking appointments a breeze for patients, especially the elderly and rural patients. Simultaneously, it also lessens the burden of hospitals in managing their patients’ online medical care.


Pioneering development in AI


Pandemic has made it more evident to be adaptable to the changes and regularly upgrade. Keeping up with the changes, Smart Opinion’s AI solution is currently undergoing a regulatory approval process in Japan. At present, Smart Opinion has found many appreciators in radiologists who concluded that their diagnosis work was greatly enhanced by its application. Recalling one such instance, Yamanami quotes an incident where a patient was subjected to ultrasound scanning, for narrowing down on a possible breast cancer diagnosis. Leveraging AI capabilities, the platform helped the radiologist accurately detect the cancerous tumor dynamically during the scanning process itself, as opposed to analyzing from static images of the scans.

Honing their capabilities, the team of Smart Opinion is striving to develop a solution for scanning that will further heighten the accuracy of the first cancer screening. By collaborating with leading cancer hospitals in Japan, including the Keio Hospital and the National Cancer Center, Smart Opinion is looking forward to joining hands with hospitals and tech companies across Asia to address the rising breast cancer rates. “Smart Opinion will continue to perform cutting-edge research on developing AI to read and analyze sonography results better for more efficient breast cancer detection,” concludes Yamanami. 

Optimistic Perspective: “The world that Smart Opinion aims for is an environment where women anywhere in the country can detect breast cancer more easily and reliably at an early stage.”

Quote: “Smart Opinion is a company that develops AI diagnosis support services for breast cancer with the aim of 100% early detection of breast cancer.”


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