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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Breast Cancer Research 1/2017

A novel and fully automated mammographic texture analysis for risk prediction: results from two case-control studies

Breast Cancer Research > Ausgabe 1/2017
Chao Wang, Adam R. Brentnall, Jack Cuzick, Elaine F. Harkness, D. Gareth Evans, Susan Astley
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s13058-017-0906-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



The percentage of mammographic dense tissue (PD) is an important risk factor for breast cancer, and there is some evidence that texture features may further improve predictive ability. However, relatively little work has assessed or validated textural feature algorithms using raw full field digital mammograms (FFDM).


A case-control study nested within a screening cohort (age 46–73 years) from Manchester UK was used to develop a texture feature risk score (264 cases diagnosed at the same time as mammogram of the contralateral breast, 787 controls) using the least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) method for 112 features, and validated in a second case-control study from the same cohort but with cases diagnosed after the index mammogram (317 cases, 931 controls). Predictive ability was assessed using deviance and matched concordance index (mC). The ability to improve risk estimation beyond percent volumetric density (Volpara) was evaluated using conditional logistic regression.


The strongest features identified in the training set were “sum average” based on the grey-level co-occurrence matrix at low image resolutions (original resolution 10.628 pixels per mm; downsized by factors of 16, 32 and 64), which had a better deviance and mC than volumetric PD. In the validation study, the risk score combining the three sum average features achieved a better deviance than volumetric PD (Δχ2 = 10.55 or 6.95 if logarithm PD) and a similar mC to volumetric PD (0.58 and 0.57, respectively). The risk score added independent information to volumetric PD (Δχ2 = 14.38, p = 0.0008).


Textural features based on digital mammograms improve risk assessment beyond volumetric percentage density. The features and risk score developed need further investigation in other settings.
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