Towards More Transparent and Accurate Cancer Diagnosis with an Unsupervised CAE Approach

Zahra Tabatabaei, Adrian colomer, Javier Oliver Moll, Valery Naranjo

Digital pathology has revolutionized cancer diagnosis by leveraging Content-Based Medical Image Retrieval (CBMIR) for analyzing histopathological Whole Slide Images (WSIs). CBMIR enables searching for similar content, enhancing diagnostic reliability and accuracy. In 2020, breast and prostate cancer constituted 11.7% and 14.1% of cases, respectively, as reported by the Global Cancer Observatory (GCO). The proposed Unsupervised CBMIR (UCBMIR) replicates the traditional cancer diagnosis workflow, offering a dependable method to support pathologists in WSI-based diagnostic conclusions. This approach alleviates pathologists' workload, potentially enhancing diagnostic efficiency. To address the challenge of the lack of labeled histopathological images in CBMIR, a customized unsupervised Convolutional Auto Encoder (CAE) was developed, extracting 200 features per image for the search engine component. UCBMIR was evaluated using widely-used numerical techniques in CBMIR, alongside visual evaluation and comparison with a classifier. The validation involved three distinct datasets, with an external evaluation demonstrating its effectiveness. UCBMIR outperformed previous studies, achieving a top 5 recall of 99% and 80% on BreaKHis and SICAPv2, respectively, using the first evaluation technique. Precision rates of 91% and 70% were achieved for BreaKHis and SICAPv2, respectively, using the second evaluation technique. Furthermore, UCBMIR demonstrated the capability to identify various patterns in patches, achieving an 81% accuracy in the top 5 when tested on an external image from Arvaniti.

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