Deep weakly-supervised breast tumor segmentation in ultrasound images with explicit anatomical constraints

Med Image Anal. 2022 Feb:76:102315. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2021 Nov 28.


Breast tumor segmentation is an important step in the diagnostic procedure of physicians and computer-aided diagnosis systems. We propose a two-step deep learning framework for breast tumor segmentation in breast ultrasound (BUS) images which requires only a few manual labels. The first step is breast anatomy decomposition handled by a semi-supervised semantic segmentation technique. The input BUS image is decomposed into four breast anatomical structures, namely fat, mammary gland, muscle and thorax layers. Fat and mammary gland layers are used as constrained region to reduce the search space for breast tumor segmentation. The second step is breast tumor segmentation performed in a weakly-supervised learning scenario where only image-level labels are available. Breast tumors are first recognized by a classification network and then segmented by the proposed class activation mapping and deep level set (CAM-DLS) method. For breast anatomy decomposition, the proposed framework achieves Dice similarity coefficient (DSC) of 83.0 ± 11.8%, 84.3 ± 10.0%, 80.7 ± 15.4% and 91.0 ± 11.4% for fat, mammary gland, muscle and thorax layers, respectively. For breast tumor recognition, the proposed framework achieves sensitivity of 95.8%, precision of 92.4%, specificity of 93.9%, accuracy of 94.8% and F1-score of 0.941. For breast tumor segmentation, the proposed framework achieves DSC of 77.3% and intersection-over-union (IoU) of 66.0%. In conclusion, the proposed framework could efficiently perform breast tumor recognition and segmentation simultaneously in a weakly-supervised setting with anatomical constraints.

Keywords: Breast ultrasound; Constraints; Deep learning; Segmentation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted* / methods
  • Ultrasonography / methods
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary