Using automated texture features to determine the probability for masking of a tumor on mammography, but not ultrasound

Haeberle L, Hack C, Heusinger K, Wagner F, Jud S, Uder M, Beckmann M, Schulz-Wendtland R, Wittenberg T, Fasching P (2017)

Publication Type: Journal article, Original article

Publication year: 2017


Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.

Book Volume: 22


DOI: 10.1186/s40001-017-0270-0



Tumors in radiologically dense breast were overlooked on mammograms more often than tumors in low-density breasts. A fast reproducible and automated method of assessing percentage mammographic density (PMD) would be desirable to support decisions whether ultrasonography should be provided for women in addition to mammography in diagnostic mammography units. PMD assessment has still not been included in clinical routine work, as there are issues of interobserver variability and the procedure is quite time consuming. This study investigated whether fully automatically generated texture features of mammograms can replace time-consuming semi-automatic PMD assessment to predict a patient's risk of having an invasive breast tumor that is visible on ultrasound but masked on mammography (mammography failure).


This observational study included 1334 women with invasive breast cancer treated at a hospital-based diagnostic mammography unit. Ultrasound was available for the entire cohort as part of routine diagnosis. Computer-based threshold PMD assessments ("observed PMD") were carried out and 363 texture features were obtained from each mammogram. Several variable selection and regression techniques (univariate selection, lasso, boosting, random forest) were applied to predict PMD from the texture features. The predicted PMD values were each used as new predictor for masking in logistic regression models together with clinical predictors. These four logistic regression models with predicted PMD were compared among themselves and with a logistic regression model with observed PMD. The most accurate masking prediction was determined by cross-validation.


About 120 of the 363 texture features were selected for predicting PMD. Density predictions with boosting were the best substitute for observed PMD to predict masking. Overall, the corresponding logistic regression model performed better (cross-validated AUC, 0.747) than one without mammographic density (0.734), but less well than the one with the observed PMD (0.753). However, in patients with an assigned mammography failure risk >10%, covering about half of all masked tumors, the boosting-based model performed at least as accurately as the original PMD model.


Automatically generated texture features can replace semi-automatically determined PMD in a prediction model for mammography failure, such that more than 50% of masked tumors could be discovered.


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How to cite


Haeberle, L., Hack, C., Heusinger, K., Wagner, F., Jud, S., Uder, M.,... Fasching, P. (2017). Using automated texture features to determine the probability for masking of a tumor on mammography, but not ultrasound. European Journal of Medical Research, 22.


Haeberle, Lothar, et al. "Using automated texture features to determine the probability for masking of a tumor on mammography, but not ultrasound." European Journal of Medical Research 22 (2017).

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