December 29, 2023
Journal of Pathology Informatics

Combining a deep learning model with clinical data better predicts hepatocellular carcinoma behavior following surgery


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is among the most common cancers worldwide, and tumor recurrence following liver resection or transplantation is one of the highest contributors to mortality in HCC patients after surgery. Using artificial intelligence (AI), we developed an interdisciplinary model to predict HCC recurrence and patient survival following surgery.

We collected whole-slide H&E images, clinical variables, and follow-up data from 300 patients with HCC who underwent transplant and 169 patients who underwent resection at the Cleveland Clinic. A deep learning model was trained to predict recurrence-free survival (RFS) and disease-specific survival (DSS) from the H&E-stained slides. Repeated cross-validation splits were used to compute robust C-index estimates, and the results were compared to those obtained by fitting a Cox proportional hazard model using only clinical variables.

While the deep learning model alone was predictive of recurrence and survival among patients in both cohorts, integrating the clinical and histologic models significantly increased the C-index in each cohort. In every subgroup analyzed, we found that a combined clinical and deep learning model better predicted post-surgical outcome in HCC patients compared to either approach independently.

Benoit Schmauch
Sarah S. Elsoukkary
Amika Moro
Roma Raj
Chase J. Wehrle
Kazunari Sasaki
Julien Calderaro
Patrick Sin-Chan
Federico Aucejo
Daniel E. Roberts