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PERSIST needs to highlight that the system will mainly allow the doctor to provide better care

Interview with Dr. Valérie Bleret, Gynecologist specialized in breast cancer, CHU de Liège, Belgium

Dr. Bleret, what motivated you to join the PERSIST clinical study?

In general, I am not very fond of studies where an AI is at the center of the patients’ follow-up. Nevertheless, I was appealed by the project given the fact that one of its main objective is to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors. A solution being able to identify risk factors of daily behavior directly related to the physical and psychological states are extremely important for improving long-term medical outcomes.

At present there are too few studies going in this direction and I hope PERSIST will encourage research teams to persevere.

Did the study change your relations with the participating patients?

I have not had the opportunity to see the patients because their follow-up for the moment are spaced out. Nevertheless, I feel responsible for having asked them to participate and in the near future I will be more supportive.

What are your expectations from this clinical study? What are the potential benefits it can bring for your work?

The AI system can guide the clinician when he/she has a doubt on his/her clinical decision. Therefore, I expect the AI solution to be able to establish a prediction when the physiological parameters do not allow the physician to make a clear-cut treatment decision. For example, should we offer a hormone therapy of 5 years rather than 10 years to a patient who has undergone chemotherapy?

Thus, with stratified patient populations I will be able to offer personalized treatment options improving clinical outcomes of my patients.

At CHU de Liège, we use the Mammaprint test that analyzes the 70 most important genes relate to risk breast cancer recurrence. I wonder if the PERSIST solution will go in the same direction as the Mammaprint or if the combination of the two could increase the prediction of breast cancer relapse.

Do you have any recommendations to this or other similar clinical studies?

This project must clearly position itself as a tool to help the medical profession and not as its replacement. This is very important because the patients seek to be listened to and understood when they express their grievances. They often emphasize that they do not want to be an extra number of the hospital. Therefore, the message PERSIST needs to convey to patients is to highlight that the system will mainly allow the doctor to provide better care.

Interview taken by Marcela Chavez

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