Malignant microcalcification clusters detection using unsupervised deep autoencoders

Rui Hou, Yinhao Ren, Lars J. Grimm, MacIej A. Mazurowski, Jeffrey R. Marks, Lorraine King, Carlo C. Maley, E. Shelley Hwang, Joseph Y. Lo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Detection and localization of microcalcification (MC) clusters are very important in mammography diagnosis. Supervised MC detectors require learning from extracted individual MCs and MC clusters. However, they are limited by number of datasets given that MC images are hard to obtain. In this work, we propose a method to detect malignant microcalcification (MC) clusters using unsupervised, one-class, deep convolutional autoencoder. Specifically, we designed a deep autoencoder model where only patches extracted from normal cases' mammograms are used during training. We then applied our trained model on patches extracted from testing images. Our training dataset contains 408 normal subjects, including 1961 full-field digital mammography images. Our testing datasets contains 276 subjects. Specifically, 106 of them were patients diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ (DCIS); 70 of them were diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC); the rest 100 are normal cases containing 484 negative screening mammograms. Patches extracted from DCIS and IDC cases (positive patches) contain MC clusters, whereas patches extracted from normal cases (negative patches) don't. As the model is trained only on negative images that do not contain MCs, it cannot reconstruct MCs well, and thus, the reconstruction error will be larger on positive patches than negative patches. Our detection algorithm's decision is made based on Max-Squared Error between autoencoder's input and output patches. To confirm the results were not simply due to blurring, we then compared our designed detector with unsharp mask with Gaussian blur results. The results using the unsupervised autoencoder on testing patches with size 64×64 achieves an AUC result of 0.93. The best performance on testing patches using Gaussian blur with kernel size equal to 11has an overall AUC of 0.82.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMedical Imaging 2019
Subtitle of host publicationComputer-Aided Diagnosis
EditorsKensaku Mori, Horst K. Hahn
ISBN (Electronic)9781510625471
StatePublished - 2019
EventMedical Imaging 2019: Computer-Aided Diagnosis - San Diego, United States
Duration: Feb 17 2019Feb 20 2019

Publication series

NameProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Proceedings of SPIE
ISSN (Print)1605-7422


ConferenceMedical Imaging 2019: Computer-Aided Diagnosis
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego


  • Autoencoder
  • DCIS
  • IDC
  • Malignant
  • Mammogram
  • Microcalcifications
  • Unsupervised learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomaterials
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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