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Semi-automated search for abnormalities in mammographic X-ray images



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Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian women; x-ray mammography is the leading screening technique for early detection. This work introduces a semi-automated technique for analyzing mammographic x-ray images to measure their degree of suspiciousness for containing abnormalities. The designed system applies the discrete wavelet transform to parse the images and extracts statistical features that characterize an image’s content, such as the mean intensity and the skewness of the intensity. A naïve Bayesian classifier uses these features to classify the images, achieving sensitivities as high as 99.5% for a data set containing 1714 images. To generate confidence levels, multiple classifiers are combined in three possible ways: a sequential series of classifiers, a vote-taking scheme of classifiers, and a network of classifiers tuned to detect particular types of abnormalities. The third method offers sensitivities of 99.85% or higher with specificities above 60%, making it an ideal candidate for pre-screening images. Two confidence level measures are developed: first, a real confidence level measures the true probability that an image was suspicious; and second, a normalized confidence level assumes that normal and suspicious images were equally likely to occur. The second confidence measure allows for more flexibility and could be combined with other factors, such as patient age and family history, to give a better true confidence level than assuming a uniform incidence rate. The system achieves sensitivities exceeding those in other current approaches while maintaining reasonable specificity, especially for the sequential series of classifiers and for the network of tuned classifiers.



mass detection, pattern recognition, biophysics, computer aided detection, wavelet, breast cancer, bayes classifier, mammogram, x-ray imaging, calcification detection



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Physics and Engineering Physics


Physics and Engineering Physics


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