A systematic approach to deep learning-based nodule detection in chest radiographs

Lung cancer is a serious disease responsible for millions of deaths every year. Early stages of lung cancer can be manifested in pulmonary lung nodules. To assist radiologists in reducing the number of overseen nodules and to increase the detection accuracy in general, automatic detection algorithms have been proposed. Particularly, deep learning methods are promising. However, obtaining clinically relevant results remains challenging. While a variety of approaches have been proposed for general purpose object detection, these are typically evaluated on benchmark data sets. Achieving competitive performance for specific real-world problems like lung nodule detection typically requires careful analysis of the problem at hand and the selection and tuning of suitable deep learning models. We present a systematic comparison of state-of-the-art object detection algorithms for the task of lung nodule detection. In this regard, we address the critical aspect of class imbalance and and demonstrate a data augmentation approach as well as transfer learning to boost performance. We illustrate how this analysis and a combination of multiple architectures results in state-of-the-art performance for lung nodule detection, which is demonstrated by the proposed model winning the detection track of the Node21 competition. The code for our approach is available at https://github.com/FinnBehrendt/node21-submit.



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