Deep-learning based classification distinguishes sarcomatoid malignant mesotheliomas from benign spindle cell mesothelial proliferations

Modern Pathology 2021 June 10 [Link]

Julia R Naso, Adrian B Levine, Hossein Farahani, Lucian R Chirieac, Sanja Dacic, Joanne L Wright, Chi Lai, Hui-Min Yang, Steven J M Jones, Ali Bashashati, Stephen Yip, Andrew Churg


Sarcomatoid mesothelioma is an aggressive malignancy that can be challenging to distinguish from benign spindle cell mesothelial proliferations based on biopsy, and this distinction is crucial to patient treatment and prognosis. A novel deep learning based classifier may be able to aid pathologists in making this critical diagnostic distinction. SpindleMesoNET was trained on cases of malignant sarcomatoid mesothelioma and benign spindle cell mesothelial proliferations. Performance was assessed through cross-validation on the training set, on an independent set of challenging cases referred for expert opinion (‘referral’ test set), and on an externally stained set from outside institutions (‘externally stained’ test set). SpindleMesoNET predicted the benign or malignant status of cases with AUC’s of 0.932, 0.925, and 0.989 on the cross-validation, referral and external test sets, respectively. The accuracy of SpindleMesoNET on the referral set cases (92.5%) was comparable to the average accuracy of 3 experienced pathologists on the same slide set (91.7%). We conclude that SpindleMesoNET can accurately distinguish sarcomatoid mesothelioma from benign spindle cell mesothelial proliferations. A deep learning system of this type holds potential for future use as an ancillary test in diagnostic pathology.