By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month, local doctors are marveling about a potential new breakthrough in early detection. It was invented by a teenager with help from doctors on the Main Line. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has the exclusive details.
She might look like any 17-year-old kicking around a soccer ball, and doing back flips. But Brittany Wenger is also a computer whiz who created a revolutionary way to detect breast cancer.
“I came across the concept of artificial intelligence when I was in 7th grade. I was enthralled,” said Brittany.
Artificial intelligence allows computers to think like humans and detect patterns. It’s what Brittany used to create an app that analyzes breast cells from needle biopsies, that makes detecting cancer more accurate.
The app allows doctors to pick from a list of drop down menus that includes a series of categories covering things like a cells size and shape.
“It can actually detect patterns that humans can’t detect,” said Brittany.
“She coordinated her findings with real cases in the pathology departments of major medical centers including Lankenau. In fact, she continues to have 100 percent accuracy,” said Dr. Marisa Weiss, the director of Breast Radiation Oncology at Lankenau Medical Center.
Dr. Weiss says Brittany’s app is still being investigated, but pathologists have been impressed.
“Down the line it may make our job easier,” said Dr. Vlasta Zemba-Palko, Director of Cytopathology and Hematology for Main Line Health.
Brittany won Google’s Top Science Prize, a 50,000 dollar scholarship for her invention.
“I’m excited about the potential this app has to improve breast cancer and lead to earlier detection,” said Brittany.
“Brittany Wenger represents hope on the horizon for me, I’m a breast cancer survivor too, and all those women out there who’ve had breast cancer,” said Dr. Weiss.
Brittany says she was inspired by a cousin who struggled with breast cancer. She lives in Florida and will be here this Saturday for a special event at Lankenau. For more information on the “Think Pink, Live Green” event http://www.mainlinehealth.org/evc/Page.asp?PageID=EVC001883