Quantitative analysis of TDLUs using adaptive morphological shape techniques

Adrian Rosebrock, Jesus J. Caban, Jonine Figueroa, Gretchen Gierach, Laura Linville, Stephen Hewitt, Mark Sherman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

13 Scopus citations


Within the complex branching system of the breast, terminal duct lobular units (TDLUs) are the anatomical location where most cancer originates. With aging, TDLUs undergo physiological involution, reflected in a loss of structural components (acini) and a reduction in total number. Data suggest that women undergoing benign breast biopsies that do not show age appropriate involution are at increased risk of developing breast cancer. To date, TDLU assessments have generally been made by qualitative visual assessment, rather by objective quantitative analysis. This paper introduces a technique to automatically estimate a set of quantitative measurements and use those variables to more objectively describe and classify TDLUs. To validate the accuracy of our system, we compared the computer-based morphological properties of 51 TDLUs in breast tissues donated for research by volunteers in the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank and compared results to those of a pathologist, demonstrating 70% agreement. Secondly, in order to show that our method is applicable to a wider range of datasets, we analyzed 52 TDLUs from biopsies performed for clinical indications in the National Cancer Institute Breast Radiology and Study of Tissues (BREAST) STAMP project and obtained 82% correlation with visual assessment. Lastly, we demonstrate the ability to uncover novel measures when researching the structural properties of the acini by applying machine learning and clustering techniques. Through our study we found that while the number of acini per TDLU increase exponentially with the TDLU diameter, the average elongation and roundness remain constant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMedical Imaging 2013
Subtitle of host publicationDigital Pathology
StatePublished - 2013
EventSPIE Medical Imaging Symposium 2013: Digital Pathology - Lake Buena Vista, FL, United States
Duration: Feb 10 2013Feb 11 2013

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


OtherSPIE Medical Imaging Symposium 2013: Digital Pathology
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityLake Buena Vista, FL


  • Acini detection
  • Adaptive morphological shape
  • Breast cancer
  • Clustering
  • Image processing
  • TDLU detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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