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Artif Intell Med. 1998 Nov;14(3):317-26.

Evolving artificial neural networks for screening features from mammograms.

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Natural Selection, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Disagreement or inconsistencies in mammographic interpretation motivates utilizing computerized pattern recognition algorithms to aid the assessment of radiographic features. We have studied the potential for using artificial neural networks (ANNs) to analyze interpreted radiographic features from film screen mammograms. Attention was given to 216 cases (mammogram series) that presented suspicious characteristics. The domain expert (Wasson) quantified up to 12 radiographic features for each case based on guidelines from previous literature. Patient age was also included. The existence or absence of malignancy was confirmed in each case via open surgical biopsy (111 malignant, 105 benign). ANNs of various complexity were trained via evolutionary programming to indicate whether or not a malignancy was present given a vector of scored input features in a statistical cross validation procedure. For suspicious masses, the best evolved ANNs generated a mean area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AZ) of 0.9196 +/- 0.0040 (1 S.E.), with a mean specificity of 0.6269 +/- 0.0272 at 0.95 sensitivity. Results when microcalcifications were included were not quite as good (AZ = 0.8464), however, ANNs with only two hidden nodes performed as well as more complex ANNs and better than ANNs with only one hidden node. The performance of the evolved ANNs was comparable to prior literature, but with an order of magnitude less complexity. The success of small ANNs in diagnosing breast cancer offers the promise that suitable explanations for the ANN's behavior can be induced, leading to a greater acceptance by physicians.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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