An artificial intelligence model for detecting pathological lymph node metastasis in prostate cancer using whole slide images: a retrospective, multicentre, diagnostic study.

The pathological examination of lymph node metastasis (LNM) is crucial for treating prostate cancer (PCa). However, the limitations with naked-eye detection and pathologist workload contribute to a high missed-diagnosis rate for nodal micrometastasis. We aimed to develop an artificial intelligence (AI)-based, time-efficient, and high-precision PCa LNM detector (ProCaLNMD) and evaluate its clinical application value.

In this multicentre, retrospective, diagnostic study, consecutive patients with PCa who underwent radical prostatectomy and pelvic lymph node dissection at five centres between Sep 2, 2013 and Apr 28, 2023 were included, and histopathological slides of resected lymph nodes were collected and digitised as whole-slide images for model development and validation. ProCaLNMD was trained at a dataset from a single centre (the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University [SYSMH]), and externally validated in the other four centres. A bladder cancer dataset from SYSMH was used to further validate ProCaLNMD, and an additional validation (human-AI comparison and collaboration study) containing consecutive patients with PCa from SYSMH was implemented to evaluate the application value of integrating ProCaLNMD into the clinical workflow. The primary endpoint was the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) of ProCaLNMD. In addition, the performance measures for pathologists with ProCaLNMD assistance was also assessed.

In total, 8225 slides from 1297 patients with PCa were collected and digitised. Overall, 8158 slides (18,761 lymph nodes) from 1297 patients with PCa (median age 68 years [interquartile range 64-73]; 331 [26%] with LNM) were used to train and validate ProCaLNMD. The AUROC of ProCaLNMD ranged from 0.975 (95% confidence interval 0.953-0.998) to 0.992 (0.982-1.000) in the training and validation datasets, with sensitivities > 0.955 and specificities > 0.921. ProCaLNMD also demonstrated an AUROC of 0.979 in the cross-cancer dataset. ProCaLNMD use triggered true reclassification in 43 (4.3%) slides in which micrometastatic tumour regions were initially missed by pathologists, thereby correcting 28 (8.5%) missed-diagnosed cases of previous routine pathological reports. In the human-AI comparison and collaboration study, the sensitivity of ProCaLNMD (0.983 [0.908-1.000]) surpassed that of two junior pathologists (0.862 [0.746-0.939], P = 0.023; 0.879 [0.767-0.950], P = 0.041) by 10-12% and showed no difference to that of two senior pathologists (both 0.983 [0.908-1.000], both P > 0.99). Furthermore, ProCaLNMD significantly boosted the diagnostic sensitivity of two junior pathologists (both P = 0.041) to the level of senior pathologists (both P > 0.99), and substantially reduced the four pathologists' slide reviewing time (-31%, P < 0.0001; -34%, P < 0.0001; -29%, P < 0.0001; and -27%, P = 0.00031).

ProCaLNMD demonstrated high diagnostic capabilities for identifying LNM in prostate cancer, reducing the likelihood of missed diagnoses by pathologists and decreasing the slide reviewing time, highlighting its potential for clinical application.

National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangdong Province, the National Key Research and Development Programme of China, the Guangdong Provincial Clinical Research Centre for Urological Diseases, and the Science and Technology Projects in Guangzhou.

EClinicalMedicine. 2024 Apr 05*** epublish ***

Shaoxu Wu, Yun Wang, Guibin Hong, Yun Luo, Zhen Lin, Runnan Shen, Hong Zeng, Abai Xu, Peng Wu, Mingzhao Xiao, Xiaoyang Li, Peng Rao, Qishen Yang, Zhengyuan Feng, Quanhao He, Fan Jiang, Ye Xie, Chengxiao Liao, Xiaowei Huang, Rui Chen, Tianxin Lin

Department of Urology, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China., Department of Urology, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China., CellsVision Medical Technology Services Co., Ltd., Guangzhou, China., Department of Pathology, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China., Department of Urology, Zhujiang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China., Department of Urology, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China., Department of Urology, First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China.