Lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans using a deep learning approach

Jason L. Causey, Yuanfang Guan, Wei Dong, Karl Walker, Jake A. Qualls, Fred Prior, Xiuzhen Huang

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Early detection through low-dose computed tomography (CT) screening has been shown to significantly reduce mortality but suffers from a high false positive rate that leads to unnecessary diagnostic procedures. Quantitative image analysis coupled to deep learning techniques has the potential to reduce this false positive rate. We conducted a computational analysis of 1449 low-dose CT studies drawn from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) cohort. We applied to this cohort our newly developed algorithm, DeepScreener, which is based on a novel deep learning approach. The algorithm, after the training process using about 3000 CT studies, does not require lung nodule annotations to conduct cancer prediction. The algorithm uses consecutive slices and multi-task features to determine whether a nodule is likely to be cancer, and a spatial pyramid to detect nodules at different scales. We find that the algorithm can predict a patient's cancer status from a volumetric lung CT image with high accuracy (78.2%, with area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.858). Our preliminary framework ranked 16th of 1972 teams (top 1%) in the Data Science Bowl 2017 (DSB2017) competition, based on the challenge datasets. We report here the application of DeepScreener on an independent NLST test set. This study indicates that the deep learning approach has the potential to significantly reduce the false positive rate in lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans.

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