Imaging plays a central role in the evaluation of breast tumor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Image-based assessment of tumor change via deformable registration is a powerful, quantitative method potentially to explore novel information of tumor heterogeneity, structure, function, and treatment response. In this study, we continued a previous pilot study to further validate the feasibility of an open source deformable registration algorithm DRAMMS developed within our group as a means to analyze spatio-temporal tumor changes for a set of 14 patients with DCE-MR imaging. Two experienced breast imaging radiologists marked landmarks according to their anatomical meaning on image sets acquired before and during chemotherapy. Yet, chemotherapy remarkably changed the anatomical structure of both tumor and normal breast tissue, leading to significant discrepancies between both raters for landmarks in certain areas. Therefore, we proposed a novel method to grade the manually denoted landmarks into different challenge levels based on the inter-rater agreement, where a high level indicates significant discrepancies and considerable amounts of anatomical structure changes, which would indeed impose giant problem for the following registration algorithm. It is interesting to observe that DRAMMS performed in a similar manner as the human raters: landmark errors increased as inter-rater differences rose. Among all selected six deformable registration algorithms, DRAMMS achieves the highest overall accuracy, which is around 5.5 mm, while the average difference between human raters is 3 mm. Moreover, DRAMMS performed consistently well within both tumor and normal tissue regions. Lastly, we comprehensively tuned the fundamental parameters of DRAMMS to better understand DRAMMS to guide similar works in the future. Overall, we further validated that DRAMMS is a powerful registration tool to accurately quantify tumor changes and potentially predict early tumor response to chemotherapy. Therefore, future studies that aim at examining if DRAMMS can generate valuable biomarkers for tumor response prediction during chemotherapy become feasible.
Accurate and efficient automated tumor segmentation in breast dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) is highly desirable for computer-aided tumor diagnosis. We propose a novel automatic segmentation framework which incorporates mean-shift smoothing, superpixel-wise classification, pixel-wise graph-cuts partitioning, and morphological refinement. A set of 15 breast DCE-MR images, obtained from the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) 6657 I-SPY trial, were manually segmented to generate tumor masks (as ground truth) and breast masks (as regions of interest). Four state-of-the-art segmentation approaches based on diverse models were also utilized for comparison. Based on five standard evaluation metrics for segmentation, the proposed framework consistently outperformed all other approaches. The performance of the proposed framework was: 1) 0.83 for Dice similarity coefficient, 2) 0.96 for pixel-wise accuracy, 3) 0.72 for VOC score, 4) 0.79 mm for mean absolute difference, and 5) 11.71 mm for maximum Hausdorff distance, which surpassed the second best method (i.e., adaptive geodesic transformation), a semi-automatic algorithm depending on precise initialization. Our results suggest promising potential applications of our segmentation framework in assisting analysis of breast carcinomas.
We evaluate the prognostic value of sparse representation-based features by applying the K-SVD algorithm on multiparametric kinetic, textural, and morphologic features in breast dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI). K-SVD is an iterative dimensionality reduction method that optimally reduces the initial feature space by updating the dictionary columns jointly with the sparse representation coefficients. Therefore, by using K-SVD, we not only provide sparse representation of the features and condense the information in a few coefficients but also we reduce the dimensionality. The extracted K-SVD features are evaluated by a machine learning algorithm including a logistic regression classifier for the task of classifying high versus low breast cancer recurrence risk as determined by a validated gene expression assay. The features are evaluated using ROC curve analysis and leave one-out cross validation for different sparse representation and dimensionality reduction numbers. Optimal sparse representation is obtained when the number of dictionary elements is 4 (K=4) and maximum non-zero coefficients is 2 (L=2). We compare K-SVD with ANOVA based feature selection for the same prognostic features. The ROC results show that the AUC of the K-SVD based (K=4, L=2), the ANOVA based, and the original features (i.e., no dimensionality reduction) are 0.78, 0.71. and 0.68, respectively. From the results, it can be inferred that by using sparse representation of the originally extracted multi-parametric, high-dimensional data, we can condense the information on a few coefficients with the highest predictive value. In addition, the dimensionality reduction introduced by K-SVD can prevent models from over-fitting.
The presence of axillary lymph node metastases is the most important prognostic factor in breast cancer and can
influence the selection of adjuvant therapy, both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In this work we present a set
of kinetic statistics derived from DCE-MRI for predicting axillary node status. Breast DCE-MRI images from
69 women with known nodal status were analyzed retrospectively under HIPAA and IRB approval. Axillary
lymph nodes were positive in 12 patients while 57 patients had no axillary lymph node involvement. Kinetic
curves for each pixel were computed and a pixel-wise map of time-to-peak (TTP) was obtained. Pixels were first
partitioned according to the similarity of their kinetic behavior, based on TTP values. For every kinetic curve,
the following pixel-wise features were computed: peak enhancement (PE), wash-in-slope (WIS), wash-out-slope
(WOS). Partition-wise statistics for every feature map were calculated, resulting in a total of 21 kinetic statistic
features. ANOVA analysis was done to select features that differ significantly between node positive and node
negative women. Using the computed kinetic statistic features a leave-one-out SVM classifier was learned that
performs with AUC=0.77 under the ROC curve, outperforming the conventional kinetic measures, including
maximum peak enhancement (MPE) and signal enhancement ratio (SER), (AUCs of 0.61 and 0.57 respectively).
These findings suggest that our DCE-MRI kinetic statistic features can be used to improve the prediction of
axillary node status in breast cancer patients. Such features could ultimately be used as imaging biomarkers to
guide personalized treatment choices for women diagnosed with breast cancer.