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In Gland surgery

Background : Early studies have demonstrated the potential of deep learning in bringing revolutionary changes in medical analysis. However, it is unknown which deep learning based diagnostic pattern is more effective for differentiating malignant and benign breast lesions (BLs) and can assist radiologists to reduce unnecessary biopsies.

Methods : A total of 506 malignant BLs and 557 benign BLs were enrolled in this study after excluding incomplete ultrasound images. 396 malignant BLs and 447 benign BLs were included in the training cohort while 110 malignant and 110 benign BLs were included in the validation cohort. All BLs in the training and validation cohort were biopsy-proven. The most common convolutional neural networks (VGG-16 and VGG-19) were applied to identify malignant and benign BLs using grey-scale ultrasound images. Two radiologists determined the malignant (suggestion for biopsy) and benign (suggestion for follow-up) BLs with a 2-step reading session. The first step was based on conventional ultrasound (US) images alone to make a biopsy or follow-up decision. The second step was to take deep learning results into account for the decision adjustment. If a deep learning result of a first-classified benign BL was above the cut-off value, then it was re-classified as malignant.

Results : In terms of area under the curve (AUC), the VGG-19 model yielded the best diagnostic performance in both training [0.939, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.924-0.954] and testing dataset (0.959, 95% CI: 0.937-0.982). With the aid of deep learning models, the AUC of radiologists improved from 0.805 (95% CI: 0.744-0.865) to 0.827 (95% CI: 0.771-0.875, VGG-16) and 0.914 (95% CI: 0.871-0.957, VGG-19). The unnecessary biopsies decreased from 10.0% (11/110) to 8.2% (9/110) (assisted by VGG-16) and 0.9% (1/110) (assisted by VGG-19).

Conclusions : The application of deep learning patterns in breast US may improve the diagnostic performance of radiologists by offering a second opinion. And thus, the assist of deep learning algorithm can considerably reduce the unnecessary biopsy rate in the clinical management of breast lesions.

Zhu Yi-Cheng, Sheng Jian-Guo, Deng Shu-Hao, Jiang Quan, Guo Jia


Deep learning, VGG-16, VGG-19, breast cancer, ultrasonography