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Health: Super Computers Move To Forefront Of Medicine

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- One of the world's best known super computers has gone from being a TV star on a popular game show to the frontline of medicine. 3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on its medical capabilities.

This new technology, which could be the future of medicine, will provide doctors and patients with a computerized analysis or a second opinion for a variety of medical problems.

It's a computer system like no other in the medical field.

"What we are creating now are a generation of computers that can learn from the data that they see and make decisions," said Dr. Mark Kris, an oncologist who is collaborating with IBM.

He's teaching the computer how to assist doctors in making individualized treatment plans for lung cancer patients.

"There are two million people with lung cancer, and the vast majority of those get a drug treatment, so the idea was to use Watson technology to make better treatment decisions," said Dr. Kris.

Carol Jaxell, who's battling lung cancer, is impressed.

"I think it's a phenomenal advance. I'm very excited about it," said Carol.

Watson has already ingested more than 600,000 pieces of medical evidence, two million pages of text, 26,000 clinical cases and has had almost 15,000 hours of training.

To use Watson, doctors input a patient's medical history on an iPad with a remote connection to the computer. Then Watson thinks, scanning through textbooks, guidelines and journal articles and suggests further testing.

Based on all of the information, Watson recalculates and comes up with a personalized treatment plan, all in under a minute.

"The real thing about the second opinion is comfort and confidence for the person," explained Dr. Kris.

The computer is also being trained to help with breast cancer and even to teach medical students.

Experts hope a version may be ready for use in hospitals within a year.

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