Longitudinal lung cancer prediction convolutional neural network model improves the classification of indeterminate pulmonary nodules.


A deep learning model (LCP CNN) for the stratification of indeterminate pulmonary nodules (IPNs) demonstrated better discrimination than commonly used clinical prediction models. However, the LCP CNN score is based on a single timepoint that ignores longitudinal information when prior imaging studies are available. Clinically, IPNs are often followed over time and temporal trends in nodule size or morphology inform management. In this study we investigated whether the change in LCP CNN scores over time was different between benign and malignant nodules. This study used a prospective-specimen collection, retrospective-blinded-evaluation (PRoBE) design. Subjects with incidentally or screening detected IPNs 6-30 mm in diameter with at least 3 consecutive CT scans prior to diagnosis (slice thickness ≤ 1.5 mm) with the same nodule present were included. Disease outcome was adjudicated by biopsy-proven malignancy, biopsy-proven benign disease and absence of growth on at least 2-year imaging follow-up. Lung nodules were analyzed using the Optellum LCP CNN model. Investigators performing image analysis were blinded to all clinical data. The LCP CNN score was determined for 48 benign and 32 malignant nodules. There was no significant difference in the initial LCP CNN score between benign and malignant nodules. Overall, the LCP CNN scores of benign nodules remained relatively stable over time while that of malignant nodules continued to increase over time. The difference in these two trends was statistically significant. We also developed a joint model that incorporates longitudinal LCP CNN scores to predict future probability of cancer. Malignant and benign nodules appear to have distinctive trends in LCP CNN score over time. This suggests that longitudinal modeling may improve radiomic prediction of lung cancer over current models. Additional studies are needed to validate these early findings.