Pan-cancer diagnostic consensus through searching archival histopathology images using artificial intelligence

Shivam Kalra, H. R. Tizhoosh, Sultaan Shah, Charles Choi, Savvas Damaskinos, Amir Safarpoor, Sobhan Shafiei, Morteza Babaie, Phedias Diamandis, Clinton J.V. Campbell, Liron Pantanowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The emergence of digital pathology has opened new horizons for histopathology. Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are able to operate on digitized slides to assist pathologists with different tasks. Whereas AI-involving classification and segmentation methods have obvious benefits for image analysis, image search represents a fundamental shift in computational pathology. Matching the pathology of new patients with already diagnosed and curated cases offers pathologists a new approach to improve diagnostic accuracy through visual inspection of similar cases and computational majority vote for consensus building. In this study, we report the results from searching the largest public repository (The Cancer Genome Atlas, TCGA) of whole-slide images from almost 11,000 patients. We successfully indexed and searched almost 30,000 high-resolution digitized slides constituting 16 terabytes of data comprised of 20 million 1000 × 1000 pixels image patches. The TCGA image database covers 25 anatomic sites and contains 32 cancer subtypes. High-performance storage and GPU power were employed for experimentation. The results were assessed with conservative “majority voting” to build consensus for subtype diagnosis through vertical search and demonstrated high accuracy values for both frozen section slides (e.g., bladder urothelial carcinoma 93%, kidney renal clear cell carcinoma 97%, and ovarian serous cystadenocarcinoma 99%) and permanent histopathology slides (e.g., prostate adenocarcinoma 98%, skin cutaneous melanoma 99%, and thymoma 100%). The key finding of this validation study was that computational consensus appears to be possible for rendering diagnoses if a sufficiently large number of searchable cases are available for each cancer subtype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31
Journalnpj Digital Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Information Management


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