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Software Meets Stethoscopes in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Software significantly impacts almost every part of our lives, and since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month we’d like to recognize some of the great contributions software makes to fight cancer. Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer worldwide and it’s imperative that we do all we can to improve diagnosis and treatment, and work toward a cure.

We’re already doing great things with software, like using AI software to diagnose breast cancer 30 times faster with 99 percent accuracy. However, the rate at which any form of cancer grows and its response to treatments differs from person to person. So, some are turning toward a more individualized approach. But to make that happen, you need a way to collect and analyze information faster than humans can.

To do that, doctors need software. Software companies, including many BSA members, are working with cancer treatment and research centers to develop technologies that quickly process large volumes of data – medical and family histories, risk factors, and previous symptoms – to help diagnose cancer or provide patients with the specific care they need.

  • IBM Watson and the American Cancer Society have partnered to build a “first advisor.” We’ve all been in a situation where something hurts or feels wrong and we don’t know who to turn to for answers. Cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers can look to the advisor, which will factor in the specific type of cancer, previous symptoms, and current stages of treatment. The advisor will use AI to learn from each interaction to provide increasingly tailored responses.
  • Salesforce provides the software platform behind the University of California’s Wisdom Study. Annual mammogram screenings can often yield false-positive results, which can lead to unnecessary biopsies – a very scary situation for any patient. Scientists are using Salesforce software to collect medical data from more than 100,000 women to make the case that check-up schedules should be customized to each woman.
  • A clinical study called Share the Journey developed a mobile app with Apple’s ResearchKit™ software to monitor symptoms after breast cancer treatment, which can vary greatly. The app asks each participant about her current and past health, and tracks her levels of energy, mood, daily movement, and quality of sleep. Researchers are using this data to better understand the different effects of treatment and ultimately improve them.

These are just a handful of examples of the many ways software is helping people advance breast cancer detection and treatment. Software has made some truly amazing strides to benefit the lives of people affected by cancer everywhere. We are hopeful that with the tech industry and medical community working side-by-side, finding a cure is only a matter of time.

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BSA staff around the world also participated in Breast Cancer Awareness Month and wore pink to the office last Friday to show their support.

Victoria Espinel


Victoria Espinel is a respected authority on the intersection of technology innovation, global markets and public policy. She leads strategic efforts that help shape the technology landscape in 60 countries through work in BSA’s 10 global offices.

Espinel also serves as the President of the BSA Foundation. is an independent and nonpartisan international research organization created to help policymakers and the broader public better understand the impact that software has on our lives, our economy, and our society.

Espinel served for a decade in the White House, for both Republican and Democratic Administrations as President Obama’s advisor on intellectual property and, before that, as the first ever chief US trade negotiator for intellectual property and innovation at USTR. She was also a professor of international trade and intellectual property at the George Mason School of Law.

Espinel is a founding and ongoing co-sponsor of Girls Who Code’s Washington, DC, summer immersion program, which empowers young women to pursue careers in STEM fields. She speaks before audiences around the world to build visibility for the amazing things people can do with software, and encourages businesses, governments, and the public to support a policy environment that will enable even more software breakthroughs.

Espinel chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Digital Economy and Society. She was appointed by President Obama to serve on the Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations (ACTPN), the principal advisory group for the US government on international trade. She holds an LLM from the London School of Economics, a JD from Georgetown University Law School, and a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriaespinel.

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