Pharmacokinetic parameters estimated from dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) time course data enable the physio-biological interpretation of tissue angiogenesis. This study aims to develop machine learning approaches for cervical carcinoma prediction based on pharmacokinetic parameters. The performance of individual parameters was assessed in terms of their efficacy in differentiating cancerous tissue from normal cervix tissue. The effect of combining parameters was evaluated using the following two approaches: the first approach was based on support vector machines (SVMs) to combine the parameters from one pharmacokinetic model or across several models; the second approach was based on a novel method called APITL (artificial pharmacokinetic images for transfer learning), which was designed to fully utilize the comprehensive pharmacokinetic information acquired from DCE-MRI data. A â€œwinner-takes-allâ€ strategy was employed to consolidate the slice-wise prediction into subject-wise prediction. Experiments were carried out with a dataset comprising 36 patients with cervical cancer and 17 healthy subjects. The results demonstrated that parameter Ve, representing volume fraction of the extracellular extravascular space (EES), attained high discriminative power regardless of the pharmacokinetic model used for estimation. An approximately 10% improvement in the accuracy was achieved with the SVM approach. The APITL method further outperformed SVM and attained a subject-wise prediction accuracy of 94.3%. Our experiment demonstrated that APITL could predict cervical carcinoma with high accuracy and had potential in clinical applications.
This research was partially supported by Agency of Science, Technol-ogy and Research (A*STAR), Singapore, under Grant Number ETPL/17-GAP020-R20H.