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In Frontiers in oncology

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the deadliest cancer types worldwide, with the lowest 5-year survival rate among all kinds of cancers. Histopathology image analysis is considered a gold standard for PDAC detection and diagnosis. However, the manual diagnosis used in current clinical practice is a tedious and time-consuming task and diagnosis concordance can be low. With the development of digital imaging and machine learning, several scholars have proposed PDAC analysis approaches based on feature extraction methods that rely on field knowledge. However, feature-based classification methods are applicable only to a specific problem and lack versatility, so that the deep-learning method is becoming a vital alternative to feature extraction. This paper proposes the first deep convolutional neural network architecture for classifying and segmenting pancreatic histopathological images on a relatively large WSI dataset. Our automatic patch-level approach achieved 95.3% classification accuracy and the WSI-level approach achieved 100%. Additionally, we visualized the classification and segmentation outcomes of histopathological images to determine which areas of an image are more important for PDAC identification. Experimental results demonstrate that our proposed model can effectively diagnose PDAC using histopathological images, which illustrates the potential of this practical application.

Fu Hao, Mi Weiming, Pan Boju, Guo Yucheng, Li Junjie, Xu Rongyan, Zheng Jie, Zou Chunli, Zhang Tao, Liang Zhiyong, Zou Junzhong, Zou Hao


convolutional neural network, deep learning, histology, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), whole-slide image analysis