Booz Allen Hamilton and Kaggle have joined forces for the third annual Data Science Bowl competition, which awards competitors with $1 million in prizes to improve lung cancer screening technology through artificial intelligence, according to a company press release. 

One focus of the competition is to improve the early detection of lung cancer. In screening trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), investigators found that low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans can reduce cancer deaths by 20%.

This much of a reduction would save more lives per year than any cancer-screening test in history, according to the release. However, significant challenges have created a barrier in implementing this technology. Low-dose CT scans have a high false-positive rate, which causes patient anxiety, and potentially leads to unnecessary and costly diagnostic work.

A critical step in making these scans available to more patients is to reduce the false-positive rate, the press release reported.

“The Data Science Bowl is an exciting opportunity for data scientist to work with unique data sets that they wouldn’t have access to unless conducting medical research,” said Anthony Goldbloom, CEO of Kaggle. “This year’s competition has an especially important goal. By reducing the false-positive rate of low-dose CT scans, we can not only prevent thousands of inaccurate lung cancer diagnoses, but also save lives through critical early detection of cancer.”

For the competition, participants will use a data set of anonymized high-resolution lung scans to develop artificial intelligence algorithms that accurately determine when lesions in the lungs are cancerous, resulting in the dramatic decrease in false-positive rates from low-dose CT technology.

“Cancer is an intensely personal disease for so many of us: it hits loved ones at home, colleagues at work and friends in our communities,” said Dr Josh Sullivan, senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton. “Improving cancer screening and treatment is among the most important responsibilities we have in the next decade. Artificial Intelligence and human ingenuity can be powerful in the fight against cancer.

“Through last year’s Data Science Bowl, hedge fund analysts who had no medical experience created an algorithm that can review heart MRI images on par with trained technicians, helping to better heart disease screening. This year, data scientists––professional and hobbyists alike––can make a difference in the lives of millions of people facing a cancer diagnosis.”

The competition will last 90 days, and funds for the prize will be provided by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

To join the Data Science Bowl and the Kaggle community, visit DataScienceBowl.com. Competitors can download the data set and participate in the competition by registering on Kaggle.com.