Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women. The diagnosis is usually performed by the pathologist, that subjectively evaluates tissue samples. The aim of our research is to develop techniques for the automatic classification of cancerous tissue, by analyzing histological samples of intact tissue taken with a biopsy. In our study, we considered 200 images presenting four different conditions: normal tissue, fibroadenosis, ductal cancer and lobular cancer.
Methods to extract features have been investigated and described. One method is based on granulometries, which are size-shape descriptors widely used in mathematical morphology. Applications of granulometries lead to distribution functions whose moments are used as features. A second method is based on fractal geometry, that seems very suitable to quantify biological structures. The fractal dimension of binary images has been computed using the euclidean distance mapping. Image classification has then been performed using the extracted features as input of a back-propagation neural network. A new method that combines genetic algorithms and morphological filters has been also investigated. In this case, the classification is based on a correlation measure. Very encouraging results have been obtained with pilot experiments using a small subset of images as training set.
Experimental results indicate the effectiveness of the proposed methods. Cancerous tissue was correctly classified in 92.5% of the cases.