Cytometry 2015 January 16 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Tosun AB, Yergiyev O, Kolouri S, Silverman JF, Rohde GK.


Mesothelioma is a form of cancer generally caused from previous exposure to asbestos. Although it was considered a rare neoplasm in the past, its incidence is increasing worldwide due to extensive use of asbestos. In the current practice of medicine, the gold standard for diagnosing mesothelioma is through a pleural biopsy with subsequent histologic examination of the tissue. The diagnostic tissue should demonstrate the invasion by the tumor and is obtained through thoracoscopy or open thoracotomy, both being highly invasive surgical operations. On the other hand, thoracocentesis, which is removal of effusion fluid from the pleural space, is a far less invasive procedure that can provide material for cytological examination. In this study, we aim at detecting and classifying malignant mesothelioma based on the nuclear chromatin distribution from digital images of mesothelial cells in effusion cytology specimens. Accordingly, a computerized method is developed to determine whether a set of nuclei belonging to a patient is benign or malignant. The quantification of chromatin distribution is performed by using the optimal transport-based linear embedding for segmented nuclei in combination with the modified Fisher discriminant analysis. Classification is then performed through a k-nearest neighborhood approach and a basic voting strategy. Our experiments on 34 different human cases result in 100% accurate predictions computed with blind cross validation. Experimental comparisons also show that the new method can significantly outperform standard numerical feature-type methods in terms of agreement with the clinical diagnosis gold standard. According to our results, we conclude that nuclear structure of mesothelial cells alone may contain enough information to separate malignant mesothelioma from benign mesothelial proliferations.