Purpose: To develop a computer-aided detection (CAD) system for masses in digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) which can make use of an existing CAD system for detection of breast masses in full-field digital mammography (FFDM). This approach has the advantage that large digital screening databases that are becoming available can be used for training. DBT is currently not used for screening which makes it hard to obtain sufficient data for training.Methods: The proposed CAD system is applied to reconstructed DBT volumes and consists of two stages. In the first stage, an existing 2D CAD system is applied to slabs composed of multiple DBT slices, after processing the slabs to a representation similar to that of the FFDM training data. In the second stage, the authors group detections obtained in the slabs that detect the same object and determine the 3D location of the grouped findings using one of three different approaches, including one that uses a set of features extracted from the DBT slabs. Experiments were conducted to determine performance of the CAD system, the optimal slab thickness for this approach and the best method to establish the 3D location. Experiments were performed using a database of 192 patients (752 DBT volumes). In 49 patients, one or more malignancies were present which were described as a mass, architectural distortion, or asymmetry. Free response receiver operating characteristic analysis and bootstrapping were used for statistical evaluation.Results: Best performance was obtained when slab thickness was in the range of 1-2 cm. Using the feature based 3D localization procedure developed in the study, accurate 3D localization could be obtained in most cases. Case sensitivities of 80% and 90% were achieved at 0.35 and 0.99 false positives per volume, respectively.Conclusions: This study indicates that there may be a large benefit in using 2D mammograms for the development of CAD for DBT and that there is no need to exclusively limit development to DBT data.
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