Publication Details
Redona Brahimetaj, Inneke Willekens, Annelien Massart, Forsyth, Ramses, Jan Cornelis, De Mey, Johan, Bart Jansen

BMC Cancer

Contribution To Journal


The detection of suspicious microcalcifications on mammography represents one of the earliest signs of a malignant breast tumor. Assessing microcalcifications’ characteristics based on their appearance on 2D breast imaging modalities is in many cases challenging for radiologists. The aims of this study were to: (a) analyse the association of shape and texture properties of breast microcalcifications (extracted by scanning breast tissue with a high resolution 3D scanner) with malignancy, (b) evaluate microcalcifications’ potential to diagnose benign/malignant patients. Biopsy samples of 94 female patients with suspicious microcalcifications detected during a mammography, were scanned using a micro-CT scanner at a resolution of 9 µm. Several preprocessing techniques were applied on 3504 extracted microcalcifications. A high amount of radiomic features were extracted in an attempt to capture differences among microcalcifications occurring in benign and malignant lesions. Machine learning algorithms were used to diagnose: (a) individual microcalcifications, (b) samples. For the samples, several methodologies to combine individual microcalcification results into sample results were evaluated. We could classify individual microcalcifications with 77.32% accuracy, 61.15% sensitivity and 89.76% specificity. At the sample level diagnosis, we achieved an accuracy of 84.04%, sensitivity of 86.27% and specificity of 81.39%. By studying microcalcifications’ characteristics at a level of details beyond what is currently possible by using conventional breast imaging modalities, our classification results demonstrated a strong association between breast microcalcifications and malignancies. Microcalcification’s texture features extracted in transform domains, have higher discriminating power to classify benign/malignant individual microcalcifications and samples compared to pure shape-features.

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