Different types of Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) have been applied to detect cancerous lung nodules from computed tomography (CT) scans. However, the size of a nodule is very diverse and can range anywhere between 3 and 30 millimeters. The high variation of nodule sizes makes classifying them a difficult and challenging task. In this study, we propose a novel CNN architecture called Gated-Dilated (GD) Networks to classify nodules as malignant or benign. Unlike previous studies, the GD network uses multiple dilated convolutions instead of max-poolings to capture the scale variations. Moreover, the GD network has a Context-Aware sub-network that analyzes the input features and guides the features to a suitable dilated convolution. We evaluated the proposed network on more than 1,000 CT scans from the LIDC-LDRI dataset. Our proposed network outperforms baseline models including conventional CNNs, Resnet, and Densenet, with an AUC of >0.95. Compared to the baseline models, the GD network improves the classification accuracies of mid-range sized nodules. Furthermore, we observe a relationship between the size of the nodule and the attention signal generated by the Context-Aware sub-network, which validates our new network architecture.
Motivated by the problem of computer-aided detection (CAD) of pulmonary nodules, we introduce methods to propagate and fuse uncertainty information in a multi-stage Bayesian convolutional neural network (CNN) architecture. The question we seek to answer is "can we take advantage of the model uncertainty provided by one deep learning model to improve the performance of the subsequent deep learning models and ultimately of the overall performance in a multi-stage Bayesian deep learning architecture?". Our experiments show that propagating uncertainty through the pipeline enables us to improve the overall performance in terms of both final prediction accuracy and model confidence.
Characterization of lung nodules as benign or malignant is one of the most important tasks in lung cancer diagnosis, staging and treatment planning. While the variation in the appearance of the nodules remains large, there is a need for a fast and robust computer aided system. In this work, we propose an end-to-end trainable multi-view deep Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) for nodule characterization. First, we use median intensity projection to obtain a 2D patch corresponding to each dimension. The three images are then concatenated to form a tensor, where the images serve as different channels of the input image. In order to increase the number of training samples, we perform data augmentation by scaling, rotating and adding noise to the input image. The trained network is used to extract features from the input image followed by a Gaussian Process (GP) regression to obtain the malignancy score. We also empirically establish the significance of different high level nodule attributes such as calcification, sphericity and others for malignancy determination. These attributes are found to be complementary to the deep multi-view CNN features and a significant improvement over other methods is obtained.
Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) require a large amount of annotated data to learn from, which is often difficult to obtain in the medical domain. In this paper we show that the sample complexity of CNNs can be significantly improved by using 3D roto-translation group convolutions (G-Convs) instead of the more conventional translational convolutions. These 3D G-CNNs were applied to the problem of false positive reduction for pulmonary nodule detection, and proved to be substantially more effective in terms of performance, sensitivity to malignant nodules, and speed of convergence compared to a strong and comparable baseline architecture with regular convolutions, data augmentation and a similar number of parameters. For every dataset size tested, the G-CNN achieved a FROC score close to the CNN trained on ten times more data.
Computed tomography (CT) examinations are commonly used to predict lung nodule malignancy in patients, which are shown to improve noninvasive early diagnosis of lung cancer. It remains challenging for computational approaches to achieve performance comparable to experienced radiologists. Here we present NoduleX, a systematic approach to predict lung nodule malignancy from CT data, based on deep learning convolutional neural networks (CNN). For training and validation, we analyze >1000 lung nodules in images from the LIDC/IDRI cohort. All nodules were identified and classified by four experienced thoracic radiologists who participated in the LIDC project. NoduleX achieves high accuracy for nodule malignancy classification, with an AUC of ~0.99. This is commensurate with the analysis of the dataset by experienced radiologists. Our approach, NoduleX, provides an effective framework for highly accurate nodule malignancy prediction with the model trained on a large patient population. Our results are replicable with software available at http://bioinformatics.astate.edu/NoduleX.