Automated quantification of levels of breast terminal duct lobular (TDLU) involution using deep learning

T. de Bel, G. Litjens, J. Ogony, M. Stallings-Mann, J. Carter, T. Hilton, D. Radisky, R. Vierkant, B. Broderick, T. Hoskin, S. Winham, M. Frost, D. Visscher, T. Allers, A. Degnim, M. Sherman and J. van der Laak

npj Breast Cancer 2022;8.

DOI PMID Cited by ~5

AbstractConvolutional neural networks (CNNs) offer the potential to generate comprehensive quantitative analysis of histologic features. Diagnostic reporting of benign breast disease (BBD) biopsies is usually limited to subjective assessment of the most severe lesion in a sample, while ignoring the vast majority of tissue features, including involution of background terminal duct lobular units (TDLUs), the structures from which breast cancers arise. Studies indicate that increased levels of age-related TDLU involution in BBD biopsies predict lower breast cancer risk, and therefore its assessment may have potential value in risk assessment and management. However, assessment of TDLU involution is time-consuming and difficult to standardize and quantitate. Accordingly, we developed a CNN to enable automated quantitative measurement of TDLU involution and tested its performance in 174 specimens selected from the pathology archives at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. The CNN was trained and tested on a subset of 33 biopsies, delineating important tissue types. Nine quantitative features were extracted from delineated TDLU regions. Our CNN reached an overall dice-score of 0.871 (+-0.049) for tissue classes versus reference standard annotation. Consensus of four reviewers scoring 705 images for TDLU involution demonstrated substantial agreement with the CNN method (unweighted kappa = 0.747 +- 0.01). Quantitative involution measures showed anticipated associations with BBD histology, breast cancer risk, breast density, menopausal status, and breast cancer risk prediction scores (p < 0.05). Our work demonstrates the potential to improve risk prediction for women with BBD biopsies by applying CNN approaches to generate automated quantitative evaluation of TDLU involution.