Classifying Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Histopathology Types and Transcriptomic Subtypes using Convolutional Neural Networks
Non-small cell lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer death worldwide, and histopathological evaluation plays the primary role in its diagnosis. However, the morphological patterns associated with the molecular subtypes have not been systematically studied. To bridge this gap, we developed a quantitative histopathology analytic framework to identify the gene expression subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer objectively. We processed whole-slide histopathology images of lung adenocarcinoma (n=427) and lung squamous cell carcinoma patients (n=457) in The Cancer Genome Atlas. To establish neural networks for quantitative image analyses, we first build convolutional neural network models to identify tumor regions from adjacent dense benign tissues (areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUC) > 0.935) and recapitulated expert pathologists' diagnosis (AUC > 0.88), with the results validated in an independent cohort (n=125; AUC > 0.85). We further demonstrated that quantitative histopathology morphology features identified the major transcriptomic subtypes of both adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma (P < 0.01). Our study is the first to classify the transcriptomic subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer using fully-automated machine learning methods. Our approach does not rely on prior pathology knowledge and can discover novel clinically-relevant histopathology patterns objectively. The developed procedure is generalizable to other tumor types or diseases.
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