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In Cancer imaging : the official publication of the International Cancer Imaging Society

BACKGROUND : This study aims to identify robust radiomic features for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), assess feature selection and machine learning methods for overall survival classification of Glioblastoma multiforme patients, and to robustify models trained on single-center data when applied to multi-center data.

METHODS : Tumor regions were automatically segmented on MRI data, and 8327 radiomic features extracted from these regions. Single-center data was perturbed to assess radiomic feature robustness, with over 16 million tests of typical perturbations. Robust features were selected based on the Intraclass Correlation Coefficient to measure agreement across perturbations. Feature selectors and machine learning methods were compared to classify overall survival. Models trained on single-center data (63 patients) were tested on multi-center data (76 patients). Priors using feature robustness and clinical knowledge were evaluated.

RESULTS : We observed a very large performance drop when applying models trained on single-center on unseen multi-center data, e.g. a decrease of the area under the receiver operating curve (AUC) of 0.56 for the overall survival classification boundary at 1 year. By using robust features alongside priors for two overall survival classes, the AUC drop could be reduced by 21.2%. In contrast, sensitivity was 12.19% lower when applying a prior.

CONCLUSIONS : Our experiments show that it is possible to attain improved levels of robustness and accuracy when models need to be applied to unseen multi-center data. The performance on multi-center data of models trained on single-center data can be increased by using robust features and introducing prior knowledge. For successful model robustification, tailoring perturbations for robustness testing to the target dataset is key.

Suter Yannick, Knecht Urspeter, Alão Mariana, Valenzuela Waldo, Hewer Ekkehard, Schucht Philippe, Wiest Roland, Reyes Mauricio


Glioblastoma multiforme, MRI radiomics, Multi-center, Overall survival classification, Robustness