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In JCO clinical cancer informatics

PURPOSE : Literature on clinical note mining has highlighted the superiority of machine learning (ML) over hand-crafted rules. Nevertheless, most studies assume the availability of large training sets, which is rarely the case. For this reason, in the clinical setting, rules are still common. We suggest 2 methods to leverage the knowledge encoded in pre-existing rules to inform ML decisions and obtain high performance, even with scarce annotations.

METHODS : We collected 501 prostate pathology reports from 6 American hospitals. Reports were split into 2,711 core segments, annotated with 20 attributes describing the histology, grade, extension, and location of tumors. The data set was split by institutions to generate a cross-institutional evaluation setting. We assessed 4 systems, namely a rule-based approach, an ML model, and 2 hybrid systems integrating the previous methods: a Rule as Feature model and a Classifier Confidence model. Several ML algorithms were tested, including logistic regression (LR), support vector machine (SVM), and eXtreme gradient boosting (XGB).

RESULTS : When training on data from a single institution, LR lags behind the rules by 3.5% (F1 score: 92.2% v 95.7%). Hybrid models, instead, obtain competitive results, with Classifier Confidence outperforming the rules by +0.5% (96.2%). When a larger amount of data from multiple institutions is used, LR improves by +1.5% over the rules (97.2%), whereas hybrid systems obtain +2.2% for Rule as Feature (97.7%) and +2.6% for Classifier Confidence (98.3%). Replacing LR with SVM or XGB yielded similar performance gains.

CONCLUSION : We developed methods to use pre-existing handcrafted rules to inform ML algorithms. These hybrid systems obtain better performance than either rules or ML models alone, even when training data are limited.

Santus Enrico, Schuster Tal, Tahmasebi Amir M, Li Clara, Yala Adam, Lanahan Conor R, Prinsen Peter, Thompson Scott F, Coons Samuel, Mynderse Lance, Barzilay Regina, Hughes Kevin