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Prognostic risk stratification of gliomas using deep learning in digital pathology images



Evaluation of tumor-tissue images stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) is pivotal in diagnosis, yet only a fraction of the rich phenotypic information is considered for clinical care. Here, we propose a survival deep learning (SDL) framework to extract this information to predict glioma survival.


Digitized whole slide images were downloaded from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) for 766 diffuse glioma patients, including isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH)-mutant/1p19q-codeleted oligodendroglioma, IDH-mutant/1p19q-intact astrocytoma, and IDH-wildtype astrocytoma/glioblastoma. Our SDL framework employs a residual convolutional neural network with a survival model to predict patient risk from H&E-stained whole-slide images. We used statistical sampling techniques and randomized the transformation of images to address challenges in learning from histology images. The SDL risk score was evaluated in traditional and recursive partitioning (RPA) survival models.


The SDL risk score demonstrated substantial univariate prognostic power (median concordance index of 0.79 [se: 0.01]). After adjusting for age and World Health Organization 2016 subtype, the SDL risk score was significantly associated with overall survival (OS; hazard ratio = 2.45; 95% CI: 2.01 to 3.00). Four distinct survival risk groups were characterized by RPA based on SDL risk score, IDH status, and age with markedly different median OS ranging from 1.03 years to 14.14 years.


The present study highlights the independent prognostic power of the SDL risk score for objective and accurate prediction of glioma outcomes. Further, we show that the RPA delineation of patient-specific risk scores and clinical prognostic factors can successfully demarcate the OS of glioma patients.

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