Incorporating robustness to imaging physics into radiomic feature selection for breast cancer risk estimation

Raymond J. Acciavatti, Eric A. Cohen, Omid Haji Maghsoudi, Aimilia Gastounioti, Lauren Pantalone, Meng Kang Hsieh, Emily F. Conant, Christopher G. Scott, Stacey J. Winham, Karla Kerlikowske, Celine Vachon, Andrew D.A. Maidment, Despina Kontos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Digital mammography has seen an explosion in the number of radiomic features used for risk‐assessment modeling. However, having more features is not necessarily beneficial, as some features may be overly sensitive to imaging physics (contrast, noise, and image sharpness). To measure the effects of imaging physics, we analyzed the feature variation across imaging acquisition settings (kV, mAs) using an anthropomorphic phantom. We also analyzed the intra-woman variation (IWV), a measure of how much a feature varies between breasts with similar parenchymal patterns—a woman’s left and right breasts. From 341 features, we identified “robust” features that minimized the effects of imaging physics and IWV. We also investigated whether robust features offered better case‐control classification in an independent data set of 575 images, all with an overall BI‐RADS® assessment of 1 (negative) or 2 (benign); 115 images (cases) were of women who developed cancer at least one year after that screening image, matched to 460 controls. We modeled cancer occurrence via logistic regression, using cross‐validated area under the receiver‐operating‐characteristic curve (AUC) to measure model performance. Models using features from the most‐robust quartile of features yielded an AUC = 0.59, versus 0.54 for the least-robust, with p < 0.005 for the difference among the quartiles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5497
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Anthropomorphic phantom
  • Breast cancer
  • Case‐control analysis
  • Digital mammography
  • Feature selection
  • Imaging acquisition physics
  • Radiomics
  • Risk assessment
  • Robustness


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