Cross-Task Attention Network: Improving Multi-Task Learning for Medical Imaging Applications

7 Sep 2023  ·  SangWook Kim, Thomas G. Purdie, Chris McIntosh ·

Multi-task learning (MTL) is a powerful approach in deep learning that leverages the information from multiple tasks during training to improve model performance. In medical imaging, MTL has shown great potential to solve various tasks. However, existing MTL architectures in medical imaging are limited in sharing information across tasks, reducing the potential performance improvements of MTL. In this study, we introduce a novel attention-based MTL framework to better leverage inter-task interactions for various tasks from pixel-level to image-level predictions. Specifically, we propose a Cross-Task Attention Network (CTAN) which utilizes cross-task attention mechanisms to incorporate information by interacting across tasks. We validated CTAN on four medical imaging datasets that span different domains and tasks including: radiation treatment planning prediction using planning CT images of two different target cancers (Prostate, OpenKBP); pigmented skin lesion segmentation and diagnosis using dermatoscopic images (HAM10000); and COVID-19 diagnosis and severity prediction using chest CT scans (STOIC). Our study demonstrates the effectiveness of CTAN in improving the accuracy of medical imaging tasks. Compared to standard single-task learning (STL), CTAN demonstrated a 4.67% improvement in performance and outperformed both widely used MTL baselines: hard parameter sharing (HPS) with an average performance improvement of 3.22%; and multi-task attention network (MTAN) with a relative decrease of 5.38%. These findings highlight the significance of our proposed MTL framework in solving medical imaging tasks and its potential to improve their accuracy across domains.

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