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In Frontiers in oncology

Current approaches to predict central cervical lymph node metastasis (CLNM) in patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) have failed to identify patients who would benefit from preventive treatment. Machine learning has offered the opportunity to improve accuracy by comparing the different algorithms. We assessed which machine learning algorithm can best improve CLNM prediction. This retrospective study used routine ultrasound data of 1,364 PTC patients. Six machine learning algorithms were compared to predict the possibility of CLNM. Predictive accuracy was assessed by sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and the area under the curve (AUC). The patients were randomly split into the training (70%), validation (15%), and test (15%) data sets. Random forest (RF) led to the best diagnostic model in the test cohort (AUC 0.731 ± 0.036, 95% confidence interval: 0.664-0.791). The diagnostic performance of the RF algorithm was most dependent on the following five top-rank features: extrathyroidal extension (27.597), age (17.275), T stage (15.058), shape (13.474), and multifocality (12.929). In conclusion, this study demonstrated promise for integrating machine learning methods into clinical decision-making processes, though these would need to be tested prospectively.

Zou Ying, Shi Yan, Liu Jihua, Cui Guanghe, Yang Zhi, Liu Meiling, Sun Fang


lymphatic metastasis, machine learning, papillary thyroid carcinoma, random forest, ultrasound