TRUSformer: Improving Prostate Cancer Detection from Micro-Ultrasound Using Attention and Self-Supervision

by   Mahdi Gilany, et al.

A large body of previous machine learning methods for ultrasound-based prostate cancer detection classify small regions of interest (ROIs) of ultrasound signals that lie within a larger needle trace corresponding to a prostate tissue biopsy (called biopsy core). These ROI-scale models suffer from weak labeling as histopathology results available for biopsy cores only approximate the distribution of cancer in the ROIs. ROI-scale models do not take advantage of contextual information that are normally considered by pathologists, i.e. they do not consider information about surrounding tissue and larger-scale trends when identifying cancer. We aim to improve cancer detection by taking a multi-scale, i.e. ROI-scale and biopsy core-scale, approach. Methods: Our multi-scale approach combines (i) an "ROI-scale" model trained using self-supervised learning to extract features from small ROIs and (ii) a "core-scale" transformer model that processes a collection of extracted features from multiple ROIs in the needle trace region to predict the tissue type of the corresponding core. Attention maps, as a byproduct, allow us to localize cancer at the ROI scale. We analyze this method using a dataset of micro-ultrasound acquired from 578 patients who underwent prostate biopsy, and compare our model to baseline models and other large-scale studies in the literature. Results and Conclusions: Our model shows consistent and substantial performance improvements compared to ROI-scale-only models. It achieves 80.3 AUROC, a statistically significant improvement over ROI-scale classification. We also compare our method to large studies on prostate cancer detection, using other imaging modalities. Our code is publicly available at


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