Deep learning as a tool for increased accuracy and efficiency of histopathological diagnosis

Sci Rep. 2016 May 23:6:26286. doi: 10.1038/srep26286.


Pathologists face a substantial increase in workload and complexity of histopathologic cancer diagnosis due to the advent of personalized medicine. Therefore, diagnostic protocols have to focus equally on efficiency and accuracy. In this paper we introduce 'deep learning' as a technique to improve the objectivity and efficiency of histopathologic slide analysis. Through two examples, prostate cancer identification in biopsy specimens and breast cancer metastasis detection in sentinel lymph nodes, we show the potential of this new methodology to reduce the workload for pathologists, while at the same time increasing objectivity of diagnoses. We found that all slides containing prostate cancer and micro- and macro-metastases of breast cancer could be identified automatically while 30-40% of the slides containing benign and normal tissue could be excluded without the use of any additional immunohistochemical markers or human intervention. We conclude that 'deep learning' holds great promise to improve the efficacy of prostate cancer diagnosis and breast cancer staging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Female
  • Histological Techniques
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / diagnosis
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology
  • Machine Learning*
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy