Engineers, Mathematicians and Doctors Unite to Develop New Breast Cancer-Detection Option

An international team comprising engineers, mathematicians and doctors has applied a technique used for detecting damage in underwater marine structures to identify cancerous cells in breast cancer histopathology images. Their multidisciplinary breakthrough, which has the potential to automate the screening of images and improve the detection rate, has been published in leading journal, PLOS ONE.

Breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer for women worldwide. Current breast cancer clinical practice and treatment mainly relies on the evaluation of the disease's prognosis using the Bloom-Richardson grading system. The necessary scoring is based on a pathologist's visual examination of a tissue biopsy specimen under microscope, but different pathologists may assign different grades to the same specimens.

However, the advent of digital pathology and fast digital slide scanners has opened the possibility of automating the prognosis by applying image-processing methods. While this undoubtedly represents progress, image-processing methods have struggled to analyse high-grade breast cancer cells as these cells are often clustered together and have vague boundaries, which makes successful detection extremely challenging.

But the new method has seemingly overcome that task, according to Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering at Trinity College Dublin, Bidisha Ghosh. She said: "This unique research group could draw on a broad and deep knowledge base. Experts in numerical methods and image-processing liaised with medical pathologists, who were able to offer expert insight and could tell us precisely what information was of value to them. It is an excellent example of how multidisciplinary research collaborations can address important societal issues."

Professor Joy John Mammen, Head of Department of Transfusion Medicine & Immunohaematology from the Christian Medical College, Vellore, India, said: "Detection of cancerous nuclei in high-grade breast cancer images is quite challenging and this work may be considered as a first step towards automating the prognosis."

The proposed technique, previously used for detecting damaged surface areas on underwater marine structures such as bridge piers, off-shore wind turbine platforms and pipe-lines was applied to histopathology images of breast cells. The researchers considered the likelihood of every point in a histopathology image either being near a cell centre or a cell boundary. Using a belief propagation algorithm, the most suitable cell boundaries were then traced out.

This technique was developed in conjunction with mathematicians in Madras Christian College, India. Lead author, Dr Maqlin Paramanandam, said: "The potential for this technology is very exciting and we are delighted that this international and inter-disciplinary team has worked so well at tackling a real bottle-neck in automating the diagnosis of breast cancer using histopathology images."

Dr Michael O'Byrne, who also worked in University College Cork during this project, added: "Coming from a civil engineering background where most of our image-processing tools were designed to assess structural damage, it was nice to discover some cross-over applications and find areas where we could lend our expertise. We all found it particularly rewarding to contribute towards breast cancer research."

The study was supported by a Science Foundation Ireland - International Strategic Cooperation Award.

Paramanandam M, O'Byrne M, Ghosh B, Mammen JJ, Manipadam MT, et al.
Automated Segmentation of Nuclei in Breast Cancer Histopathology Images.
PLoS ONE 11(9): e0162053. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162053

Most Popular Now

AI can Help Improve Emergency Room Admis…

Generative artificial intelligence (AI), such as GPT-4, can help predict whether an emergency room patient needs to be admitted to the hospital even with only minimal training on a limited...

Philips ePatch and AI Analytics Platform…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, announced the successful nationwide rollout of its ambulatory cardiac monitoring service in Spain using its unique wearable ePatch...

Is 'Smart Health Tech' Solving…

Opinion Article by Dr. Paul Deffley, Chief Medical Officer, Alcidion. Where would you position the NHS in relation to other countries, when it comes to the adoption of innovative technologies to...

ChatGPT Extracts Data for Ischaemic Stro…

In an ischaemic stroke, an artery in the brain is blocked by blood clots and the brain cells can no longer be supplied with blood as a result. Doctors must...

Comprehensive Bibliographic Dataset Adva…

A groundbreaking study published in Health Data Science, a Science Partner Journal, introduces a curated bibliographic dataset that aims to revolutionize the landscape of Health Artificial Intelligence (AI) research. Led...

New AI Algorithm may Improve Autoimmune …

A new advanced artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm may lead to better - and earlier - predictions and novel therapies for autoimmune diseases, which involve the immune system mistakenly attacking their...

AI Health Coach Lowers Blood Pressure an…

A new study in JMIR Cardio, published by JMIR Publications, shows that a fully digital, artificial intelligence (AI)-driven lifestyle coaching program can effectively reduce blood pressure (BP) in adults with...

Will Generative AI Change the Way Univer…

Since the launch of ChatGPT 3 in November 2022, we've been abuzz with talk of artificial intelligence: is it an unprecedented opportunity, or will it rob everyone of jobs and...

New Deep Learning Model is 'Game Ch…

Research led by the University of Plymouth has shown that a new deep learning AI model can identify what happens and when during embryonic development, from video. Published in the Journal...

Huge NHS Cloud Deals Mean Tough Question…

Opinion Article by Chris Scarisbrick, Deputy Managing Director, Sectra. The largest public cloud projects to ever take place within the NHS are beginning. Regional procurements for public cloud hosted diagnostic imaging...

A Three-Point Plan for Digital Delivery

Sam Shah has seen health tech policy up-close and worries that little progress has been made over the past five-years. However, he has a plan for any health and social...

AI Tech should Augment Physician Decisio…

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in clinical health care has the potential to transform health care delivery but it should not replace physician decision-making, says the American College of...