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use of TSA to screen breast cancer among other illnesses

wildly talented computers use airport radiography to screen various illnesses, saving millions of lives
  [vote for,

this idea is just so crummy, yet so compelling.

How many terrorists have been prevented with airport screenings? What is the rate of the most common cancers?

if 1 per thousand persons at a particular age profile is a screening success then the multibillion annual air travellers successfully alerts millions of people they have a treatable illness. Im sure this antiterrorist airport imaging has saved vastly less than a million lives. Medicalizing the scans to rescue 1 per thousand people provides 4 or 5 orders of magnitude greater fatality reduction than seeking terrorists.

As a technology you could use a few options, medically beneficial scan, minimum scan, refusal, or predictive software scan, noting that the vast majority of people could skip the medically beneficial scan yet might want physician programmed risk estimation without having to think about it.

all the scan data uploads automatically to the persons handyphone, or if they prefer, the cloud.

beanangel, Jan 18 2012

Traveloscopy Traveloscopy
Redundant to the linked idea [theircompetitor, Jan 19 2012]


       What would be the additional cost from all the false positives?
swimswim, Jan 18 2012

       [swimswim] well thats among the well being opportunities, they could simply create a false alarm rate say a tenth or a hundredth of that of normal medicine, yet still find much curable illness.   

       Also, some things have very high amounts of detectability. viewing this generously lets say the thing can detect tobacco use, as well as high blood pressure (chemosniffer machine or EMpulmonagram) . Together those are notably yucky as tobacco kills 20 times more people at the US than are murdered. If they have just visited an area with tobacco while viewing a thrilling movie the machine might well tell them, yet they already know they are tobaccoless.   

       even if only 1 per thousand tobacco users with high blood pressure cease tobacco from this machine, 999 people say, "you know, I knew that" while one person says, "what, high BP, with tobacco, Im ceasing tobacco" then that could save 1/1000 of a several billion, times the actual quit rate, times the number of annual travels. Hundreds of thousands of or perhaps a million lives saved.
beanangel, Jan 19 2012

       I could be wrong, but I sincerely doubt even the newest TSA scanners are up to the task of ferreting out tumors and other anomalous masses. Beyond the fact that they're just not sensitive enough to show the difference between normal and diseased tissue (sometimes a subjective art even with far more powerful and precise medical-grade equipment), security scanners are specifically configured to highlight solid objects and non-biological substances such as explosives. I read in Newsweek (making the information somewhat suspect) that they even have a hard time disguishing packets of heroin and cocaine in GI tracts of drug mules from normal digestive matter, which shows up as vague blobs, if at all.
Alterother, Jan 19 2012

       // lets say the thing can detect tobacco use, as well as high blood pressure//   

       Great idea!! Let's also say the thing can detect early degeneration of the substantia nigra, and pre-cancerous lesions! Wow - that was easy! Now let's say it can detect the signs of incipient schizophrenia too. Why didn't we think of this saying business sooner??   

       There's not much diagnostic information available from any of the current security scanners (although they could probably pick up if you had, say, a bullet in your liver).   

       Moreover, doctors hate this sort of population- wide screening (particularly if it's a whole-body look-see scan), because the false positive rates enormously outweigh the true positives. False positives kill people because the follow-up investigations often have a finite risk, and because they take up doctors' time.   

       Dumb idea, but then again [theircompetitor] was dumb before you.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 19 2012

       Im thrilled, I get to ignore my qualms because other people actually have started building it. I'm croissanting [theircompetitor]s idea
beanangel, Jan 23 2012

       Also, the terahertz scanners used by the TSA see through clothing, but not skin, effectively displaying the person being scanned as if they were nude -- if they *did* see through skin, there would be much less of an invasion of privacy issue.   

       Cancers, except for skin cancer, are fully inside the body, and wouldn't show up on a THz scanner.
goldbb, Jan 30 2012

       What [Max-B] said - general scanning of a population is a bad idea. If we simplify things and say the scan is very good and is wrong only 1 time in 1000 (and symmetrical, so one cancer-free person in 1000 will be told they have cancer, and 1 person in every 1000 with cancer will be told they are OK). We shall also assume that in the population as a whole, 1 person in 1000 people actually has cancer.

So, in a population of 10,000,000 there are 10,000 people with cancer and 9,990,000 without. These will go through the scan as follows:

* 9,990 people with cancer will be told they have cancer
* 10 people with cancer will be told they don't have cancer
* 9,990 people without cancer will be told they have cancer
* 9,980,010 people without cancer will be told they don't have cancer

So, you'll be telling 19980 people they have cancer, but only half of these people will actually have cancer. This is not a very good test, it's incredibly unethical to worry so many people unnecessarily, and no healthcare system can cope with this number of false alarms.
hippo, Jan 30 2012

       Actually on those numbers it would probably be a good thing - most mass-cancer-screening is way less good than that.   

       In reality, though, I'd say that you'd get a false positive rate of at least 1%, and a false negative rate of at least 10%. (You could change the criteria, but you'd either increase the false positives or increase the false negatives.)   

       On that basis:
*9,000 people with cancer will be told they have cancer
*1000 people with cancer will be told they don't have cancer
*99,900 people without cancer will be told they have cancer
*8,991,000 people without cancer will be told they don't have cancer.

       (OK, they wouldn't be told they have cancer; they'd be told that there's a chance they have cancer and ought to get a follow-up investigation.)
MaxwellBuchanan, Jan 30 2012

       I'm splitting from the rules and bunning this as a great idea for a Saturday Night Live skit.
doctorremulac3, Jan 31 2012

       [Max] I know - I was assuming a very good test, and even then you get terrible results. Your error rates sound more realistic.
hippo, Jan 31 2012

       It is strange to see news reports suddenly backtrack on recommending PSA tests for example, which seem to have relatively high error rates, but given that, if you're not lucky enough to live near the equator, up to 50% of people will be genuinely diagnosed with cancer at least once in their life, wouldn't annual testing make sense even with false positives between 1-10%? In some countries, technicians administer the tests, with doctors only becoming involved later if at all.
4and20, Aug 24 2012


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