Federated Learning with Research Prototypes for Multi-Center MRI-based Detection of Prostate Cancer with Diverse Histopathology

Early prostate cancer detection and staging from MRI are extremely challenging tasks for both radiologists and deep learning algorithms, but the potential to learn from large and diverse datasets remains a promising avenue to increase their generalization capability both within- and across clinics. To enable this for prototype-stage algorithms, where the majority of existing research remains, in this paper we introduce a flexible federated learning framework for cross-site training, validation, and evaluation of deep prostate cancer detection algorithms. Our approach utilizes an abstracted representation of the model architecture and data, which allows unpolished prototype deep learning models to be trained without modification using the NVFlare federated learning framework. Our results show increases in prostate cancer detection and classification accuracy using a specialized neural network model and diverse prostate biopsy data collected at two University of California research hospitals, demonstrating the efficacy of our approach in adapting to different datasets and improving MR-biomarker discovery. We open-source our FLtools system, which can be easily adapted to other deep learning projects for medical imaging.

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