Published online Dec 15, 2019. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v11.i12.1218
Peer-review started: March 4, 2019
First decision: June 5, 2019
Revised: July 9, 2019
Accepted: October 3, 2019
Article in press: October 3, 2019
Published online: December 15, 2019
Artificial intelligence, such as convolutional neural networks (CNNs), has been used in the interpretation of images and the diagnosis of hepatocellular cancer (HCC) and liver masses. CNN, a machine-learning algorithm similar to deep learning, has demonstrated its capability to recognise specific features that can detect pathological lesions.
To assess the use of CNNs in examining HCC and liver masses images in the diagnosis of cancer and evaluating the accuracy level of CNNs and their performance.
The databases PubMed, EMBASE, and the Web of Science and research books were systematically searched using related keywords. Studies analysing pathological anatomy, cellular, and radiological images on HCC or liver masses using CNNs were identified according to the study protocol to detect cancer, differentiating cancer from other lesions, or staging the lesion. The data were extracted as per a predefined extraction. The accuracy level and performance of the CNNs in detecting cancer or early stages of cancer were analysed. The primary outcomes of the study were analysing the type of cancer or liver mass and identifying the type of images that showed optimum accuracy in cancer detection.
A total of 11 studies that met the selection criteria and were consistent with the aims of the study were identified. The studies demonstrated the ability to differentiate liver masses or differentiate HCC from other lesions (n = 6), HCC from cirrhosis or development of new tumours (n = 3), and HCC nuclei grading or segmentation (n = 2). The CNNs showed satisfactory levels of accuracy. The studies aimed at detecting lesions (n = 4), classification (n = 5), and segmentation (n = 2). Several methods were used to assess the accuracy of CNN models used.
The role of CNNs in analysing images and as tools in early detection of HCC or liver masses has been demonstrated in these studies. While a few limitations have been identified in these studies, overall there was an optimal level of accuracy of the CNNs used in segmentation and classification of liver cancers images.
Core tip: Artificial intelligence, such as convolutional neural networks (CNNs), have been used in the interpretation of images, including pathology and radiology images with potential application in the diagnosis of hepatocellular cancer (HCC) and liver masses. CNN, a machine-learning algorithm similar to deep learning, has demonstrated its capability to recognise specific features that can detect pathological lesions. The primary aim of this review is to assess the use of CNNs in examining HCC and liver masses images in the diagnosis of cancer. The second aim is to evaluate the accuracy level of CNNs and their clinical performance.