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In JAMA network open

Importance : Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated gastric cancer (EBV-GC) is 1 of 4 molecular subtypes of GC and is confirmed by an expensive molecular test, EBV-encoded small RNA in situ hybridization. EBV-GC has 2 histologic characteristics, lymphoid stroma and lace-like tumor pattern, but projecting EBV-GC at biopsy is difficult even for experienced pathologists.

Objective : To develop and validate a deep learning algorithm to predict EBV status from pathology images of GC biopsy.

Design, Setting, and Participants : This diagnostic study developed a deep learning classifier to predict EBV-GC using image patches of tissue microarray (TMA) and whole slide images (WSIs) of GC and applied it to GC biopsy specimens from GCs diagnosed at Kangbuk Samsung Hospital between 2011 and 2020. For a quantitative evaluation and EBV-GC prediction on biopsy specimens, the area of each class and the fraction in total tissue or tumor area were calculated. Data were analyzed from March 5, 2021, to February 10, 2022.

Main Outcomes and Measures : Evaluation metrics of predictive model performance were assessed on accuracy, recall, precision, F1 score, area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), and κ coefficient.

Results : This study included 137 184 image patches from 16 TMAs (708 tissue cores), 24 WSIs, and 286 biopsy images of GC. The classifier was able to classify EBV-GC image patches from TMAs and WSIs with 94.70% accuracy, 0.936 recall, 0.938 precision, 0.937 F1 score, and 0.909 κ coefficient. The classifier was used for predicting and measuring the area and fraction of EBV-GC on biopsy tissue specimens. A 10% cutoff value for the predicted fraction of EBV-GC to tissue (EBV-GC/tissue area) produced the best prediction results in EBV-GC biopsy specimens and showed the highest AUC value (0.8723; 95% CI, 0.7560-0.9501). That cutoff also obtained high sensitivity (0.895) and moderate specificity (0.745) compared with experienced pathologist sensitivity (0.842) and specificity (0.854) when using the presence of lymphoid stroma and a lace-like pattern as diagnostic criteria. On prediction maps, EBV-GCs with lace-like pattern and lymphoid stroma showed the same prediction results as EBV-GC, but cases lacking these histologic features revealed heterogeneous prediction results of EBV-GC and non-EBV-GC areas.

Conclusions and Relevance : This study showed the feasibility of EBV-GC prediction using a deep learning algorithm, even in biopsy samples. Use of such an image-based classifier before a confirmatory molecular test will reduce costs and tissue waste.

Vuong Trinh Thi Le, Song Boram, Kwak Jin T, Kim Kyungeun