Comparison of supervised machine learning classification techniques in prediction of locoregional recurrences in early oral tongue cancer



Alabi RO, Elmusrati M, Sawazaki-Calone I, Kowalski LP, Haglund C, Coletta RD, Mäkitie AA, Salo T, Almangush A, Leivo I.


Int J Med Inform. 2020 Apr;136:104068. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2019.104068. Epub 2019 Dec 28.


BACKGROUND: The proper estimate of the risk of recurrences in early-stage oral tongue squamous cell carcinoma (OTSCC) is mandatory for individual treatment-decision making. However, this remains a challenge even for experienced multidisciplinary centers. OBJECTIVES: We compared the performance of four machine learning (ML) algorithms for predicting the risk of locoregional recurrences in patients with OTSCC. These algorithms were Support Vector Machine (SVM), Naive Bayes (NB), Boosted Decision Tree (BDT), and Decision Forest (DF). MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study cohort comprised 311 cases from the five University Hospitals in Finland and A.C. Camargo Cancer Center, São Paulo, Brazil. For comparison of the algorithms, we used the harmonic mean of precision and recall called F1 score, specificity, and accuracy values. These algorithms and their corresponding permutation feature importance (PFI) with the input parameters were externally tested on 59 new cases. Furthermore, we compared the performance of the algorithm that showed the highest prediction accuracy with the prognostic significance of depth of invasion (DOI). RESULTS: The results showed that the average specificity of all the algorithms was 71% . The SVM showed an accuracy of 68% and F1 score of 0.63, NB an accuracy of 70% and F1 score of 0.64, BDT an accuracy of 81% and F1 score of 0.78, and DF an accuracy of 78% and F1 score of 0.70. Additionally, these algorithms outperformed the DOI-based approach, which gave an accuracy of 63%. With PFI-analysis, there was no significant difference in the overall accuracies of three of the algorithms; PFI-BDT accuracy increased to 83.1%, PFI-DF increased to 80%, PFI-SVM decreased to 64.4%, while PFI-NB accuracy increased significantly to 81.4%. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show that the best classification accuracy was achieved with the boosted decision tree algorithm. Additionally, these algorithms outperformed the DOI-based approach. Furthermore, with few parameters identified in the PFI analysis, ML technique still showed the ability to predict locoregional recurrence. The application of boosted decision tree machine learning algorithm can stratify OTSCC patients and thus aid in their individual treatment planning. CI – Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Link/DOI: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2019.104068