Predicting Overall Survival for Patients with Malignant Mesothelioma Following Radiotherapy via Interpretable Machine Learning

Cancers 2023 August 1 [Link]

Zitian Wan, Vincent R Li, Fang-I Chu, Victoria Yu, Alan Lee, Daniel Low, Drew Moghanaki, Percy Lee, X Sharon Qi


Purpose/objectives: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rare but aggressive cancer arising from the cells of the thoracic pleura with a poor prognosis. We aimed to develop a model, via interpretable machine learning (ML) methods, predicting overall survival for MPM following radiotherapy based on dosimetric metrics as well as patient characteristics.

Materials/methods: Sixty MPM (37 right, 23 left) patients treated on a Tomotherapy unit between 2013 and 2018 were retrospectively analyzed. All patients received 45 Gy (25 fractions). The multivariable Cox regression (Cox PH) model and Survival Support Vector Machine (sSVM) were applied to build predictive models of overall survival (OS) based on clinical, dosimetric, and combined variables.

Results: Significant differences in dosimetric endpoints for critical structures, i.e., the lung, heart, liver, kidney, and stomach, were observed according to target laterality. The OS was found to be insignificantly different (p = 0.18) between MPM patients who tested left- and right-sided, with 1-year OS of 77.3% and 75.0%, respectively. With Cox PH regression, considering dosimetric variables for right-sided patients alone, an increase in PTV_Min, Total_Lung_PTV_Mean, Contra_Lung_Volume, Contra_Lung_V20, Esophagus_Mean, and Heart_Volume had a greater hazard to all-cause death, while an increase in Total_Lung_PTV_V20, Contra_Lung_V5, and Esophagus_Max had a lower hazard to all-cause death. Considering clinical variables alone, males and increases in N stage had greater hazard to all-cause death; considering both clinical and dosimetric variables, increases in N stage, PTV_Mean, PTV_Min, and esophagus_Mean had greater hazard to all-cause death, while increases in T stage and Heart_V30 had lower hazard to all-cause-death. In terms of C-index, the Cox PH model and sSVM performed similarly and fairly well when considering clinical and dosimetric variables independently or jointly.

Conclusions: Clinical and dosimetric variables may predict the overall survival of mesothelioma patients, which could guide personalized treatment planning towards a better treatment response. The identified predictors and their impact on survival offered additional value for translational application in clinical practice.