Finding malignant cells in Pap smear images is a "needle in a haystack"-type problem, tedious, labor-intensive and error-prone. It is therefore desirable to have an automatic screening tool in order that human experts can concentrate on the evaluation of the more difficult cases. Most research on automatic cervical screening tries to extract morphometric and texture features at the cell level, in accordance with the NIH "The Bethesda System" rules. Due to variances in image quality and features, such as brightness, magnification and focus, morphometric and texture analysis is insufficient to provide robust cervical cancer detection.
Using a microscopic spectral imaging system, we have produced a set of multispectral Pap smear images with wavelengths from 400 nm to 690 nm, containing both spectral signatures and spatial attributes. We describe a novel scheme that combines spatial information (including texture and morphometric features) with spectral information to significantly improve abnormal cell detection. Three kinds of wavelet features, orthogonal, bi-orthogonal and non-orthogonal, are carefully chosen to optimize recognition performance. Multispectral feature sets are then extracted in the wavelet domain. Using a Back-Propagation Neural Network classifier that greatly decreases the influence of spurious events, we obtain a classification error rate of 5%. Cell morphometric features, such as area and shape, are then used to eliminate most remaining small artifacts. We report initial results from 149 cells from 40 separate image sets, in which only one abnormal cell was missed (TPR = 97.6%) and one normal cell was falsely classified as cancerous (FPR = 1%).