Objective: The integration of an artificial intelligence tool into pathologists' workflow may lead to a more accurate and timely diagnosis of melanocytic lesions, directly patient care. The objective of this study was to create and evaluate the performance of such a model in achieving clinical-grade diagnoses of Spitz nevi, dermal and junctional melanocytic nevi, and melanomas.
Methods: We created a beginner-level training environment by teaching our algorithm to perform cytologic inferences on 136,216 manually annotated tiles of hematoxylin and eosin-stained slides consisting of unequivocal melanocytic nevi, Spitz nevi, and invasive melanoma cases. We sequentially trained and tested our network to provide a final diagnosis-classification on 39 cases in total. Positive predictive value (precision) and sensitivity (recall) were used to measure our performance.
Results: The tile-classification algorithm predicted the 136,216 irrelevant, melanoma, melanocytic nevi, and Spitz nevi tiles at sensitivities of 96%, 93%, 94% and 73%, respectively. The final trained model was able to correctly classify and predict the correct diagnosis in 85.7% of unseen cases (n = 28), reporting at or near screening-level performances for precision and recall of melanoma (76.2%, 100.0%), melanocytic nevi (100.0%, 75.0%), and Spitz nevi (100.0%, 75.0%).
Conclusions: Our pilot study proves that convolutional networks trained on cellular morphology to classify melanocytic proliferations can be used as a powerful tool to assist pathologists in screening for melanoma versus other benign lesions.
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