Detection of prostate cancer in whole-slide images through end-to-end training with image-level labels

by   Hans Pinckaers, et al.

Prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer among men in Western countries, with 1.1 million new diagnoses every year. The gold standard for the diagnosis of prostate cancer is a pathologists' evaluation of prostate tissue. To potentially assist pathologists deep-learning-based cancer detection systems have been developed. Many of the state-of-the-art models are patch-based convolutional neural networks, as the use of entire scanned slides is hampered by memory limitations on accelerator cards. Patch-based systems typically require detailed, pixel-level annotations for effective training. However, such annotations are seldom readily available, in contrast to the clinical reports of pathologists, which contain slide-level labels. As such, developing algorithms which do not require manual pixel-wise annotations, but can learn using only the clinical report would be a significant advancement for the field. In this paper, we propose to use a streaming implementation of convolutional layers, to train a modern CNN (ResNet-34) with 21 million parameters end-to-end on 4712 prostate biopsies. The method enables the use of entire biopsy images at high-resolution directly by reducing the GPU memory requirements by 2.4 TB. We show that modern CNNs, trained using our streaming approach, can extract meaningful features from high-resolution images without additional heuristics, reaching similar performance as state-of-the-art patch-based and multiple-instance learning methods. By circumventing the need for manual annotations, this approach can function as a blueprint for other tasks in histopathological diagnosis. The source code to reproduce the streaming models is available at .


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