Accurate Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer Based on Histopathology Images Using Artificial Intelligence
Kenneth C Ehrlich,
Posted 17 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.15.992917
Posted 17 Mar 2020
Background: Accurate and robust pathological image analysis for colorectal cancer (CRC) diagnosis is time-consuming and knowledge-intensive, but is essential for CRC treatment. The current heavy workload of pathologists in clinics/hospitals may easily lead to unconscious misdiagnosis of CRC based on their daily image analyses. Methods: Based on a state-of-the-art transfer-learned deep convolutional neural network in artificial intelligence (AI), we proposed a novel patch aggregation strategy for clinic CRC prediction/diagnosis using weakly labeled pathological whole slide image (WSI) patches. This approach was trained and validated using an unprecedented and enormously large number of 170,099 patches, >14,680 WSIs, from >9,631 subjects that covered diverse and representative clinical cases from multi-independent-sources across China, U.S., and Germany. Results: Our innovative AI tool was consistently nearly perfectly agreed with (average Kappa-statistic 0.896) and even often better than most of the experienced expert pathologists when tested in diagnosing CRC WSIs from multi-centers. The average area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUC) of AI was greater than that of the pathologists (0.981 vs 0.970) and achieved the best performance among the application of other AI methods to CRC diagnosis. Our AI-generated heatmap highlights the image regions of cancer tissue/cells. Conclusions: This first-ever generalizable AI system can handle large amounts of WSIs consistently and robustly without potential bias due to fatigue commonly experienced by clinical pathologists. Hence, it will drastically alleviate the heavy clinical burden of daily pathology diagnosis, and improve the treatment for CRC patients. This tool is generalizable to other cancer diagnosis based on image recognition.
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