Overview of the HECKTOR Challenge at MICCAI 2021: Automatic Head and Neck Tumor Segmentation and Outcome Prediction in PET/CT Images

Vincent Andrearczyk, Valentin Oreiller, Sarah Boughdad, Catherine Chez Le Rest, Hesham Elhalawani, Mario Jreige, John O. Prior, Martin Vallières, Dimitris Visvikis, Mathieu Hatt, Adrien Depeursinge

This paper presents an overview of the second edition of the HEad and neCK TumOR (HECKTOR) challenge, organized as a satellite event of the 24th International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI) 2021. The challenge is composed of three tasks related to the automatic analysis of PET/CT images for patients with Head and Neck cancer (H&N), focusing on the oropharynx region. Task 1 is the automatic segmentation of H&N primary Gross Tumor Volume (GTVt) in FDG-PET/CT images. Task 2 is the automatic prediction of Progression Free Survival (PFS) from the same FDG-PET/CT. Finally, Task 3 is the same as Task 2 with ground truth GTVt annotations provided to the participants. The data were collected from six centers for a total of 325 images, split into 224 training and 101 testing cases. The interest in the challenge was highlighted by the important participation with 103 registered teams and 448 result submissions. The best methods obtained a Dice Similarity Coefficient (DSC) of 0.7591 in the first task, and a Concordance index (C-index) of 0.7196 and 0.6978 in Tasks 2 and 3, respectively. In all tasks, simplicity of the approach was found to be key to ensure generalization performance. The comparison of the PFS prediction performance in Tasks 2 and 3 suggests that providing the GTVt contour was not crucial to achieve best results, which indicates that fully automatic methods can be used. This potentially obviates the need for GTVt contouring, opening avenues for reproducible and large scale radiomics studies including thousands potential subjects.

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