Comparative analysis of the spatial distribution of brain metastases across several primary cancers using machine learning and deep learning models

J Neurooncol. 2024 May;167(3):501-508. doi: 10.1007/s11060-024-04630-5. Epub 2024 Apr 2.


Objective: Brain metastases (BM) are associated with poor prognosis and increased mortality rates, making them a significant clinical challenge. Studying BMs can aid in improving early detection and monitoring. Systematic comparisons of anatomical distributions of BM from different primary cancers, however, remain largely unavailable.

Methods: To test the hypothesis that anatomical BM distributions differ based on primary cancer type, we analyze the spatial coordinates of BMs for five different primary cancer types along principal component (PC) axes. The dataset includes 3949 intracranial metastases, labeled by primary cancer types and with six features. We employ PC coordinates to highlight the distinctions between various cancer types. We utilized different Machine Learning (ML) algorithms (RF, SVM, TabNet DL) models to establish the relationship between primary cancer diagnosis, spatial coordinates of BMs, age, and target volume.

Results: Our findings revealed that PC1 aligns most with the Y axis, followed by the Z axis, and has minimal correlation with the X axis. Based on PC1 versus PC2 plots, we identified notable differences in anatomical spreading patterns between Breast and Lung cancer, as well as Breast and Renal cancer. In contrast, Renal and Lung cancer, as well as Lung and Melanoma, showed similar patterns. Our ML and DL results demonstrated high accuracy in distinguishing BM distribution for different primary cancers, with the SVM algorithm achieving 97% accuracy using a polynomial kernel and TabNet achieving 96%. The RF algorithm ranked PC1 as the most important discriminating feature.

Conclusions: In summary, our results support accurate multiclass ML classification regarding brain metastases distribution.

Keywords: Brain metastases; Deep learning models; Pan cancer analysis; Principal components.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Brain Neoplasms* / secondary
  • Deep Learning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Machine Learning*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / pathology