A novel self-learning framework for bladder cancer grading using histopathological images
Computers in Biology and Medicine
In recent times, bladder cancer has increased significantly in terms of incidence and mortality. Currently, two subtypes are known based on tumour growth: non-muscle invasive (NMIBC) and muscle-invasive bladder cancer (MIBC). In this work, we focus on the MIBC subtype because it has the worst prognosis and can spread to adjacent organs. We present a self-learning framework to grade bladder cancer from histological images stained by immunohistochemical techniques. Specifically, we propose a
... Deep Convolutional Embedded Attention Clustering (DCEAC) which allows for the classification of histological patches into different levels of disease severity, according to established patterns in the literature. The proposed DCEAC model follows a fully unsupervised two-step learning methodology to discern between non-tumour, mild and infiltrative patterns from high-resolution 512 × 512 pixel samples. Our system outperforms previous clustering-based methods by including a convolutional attention module, which enables the refinement of the features of the latent space prior to the classification stage. The proposed network surpasses state-of-the-art approaches by 2-3% across different metrics, reaching a final average accuracy of 0.9034 in a multi-class scenario. Furthermore, the reported class activation maps evidence that our model is able to learn by itself the same patterns that clinicians consider relevant, without requiring previous annotation steps. This represents a breakthrough in MIBC grading that bridges the gap with respect to training the model on labelled data.