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Radiomic analysis of imaging heterogeneity in tumours and the surrounding parenchyma based on unsupervised decomposition of DCE-MRI for predicting molecular subtypes of breast cancer



This study aimed to predict the molecular subtypes of breast cancer via intratumoural and peritumoural radiomic analysis with subregion identification based on the decomposition of contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI).


The study included 211 women with histopathologically confirmed breast cancer. We utilised a completely unsupervised convex analysis of mixtures (CAM) method by unmixing dynamic imaging series from heterogeneous tissues. Each tumour and the surrounding parenchyma were thus decomposed into multiple subregions, representing different vascular characterisations, from which radiomic features were extracted. A random forest model was trained and tested using a leave-one-out cross-validation (LOOCV) method to predict breast cancer subtypes. The predictive models from tumoural and peritumoural subregions were fused for classification.


Tumour and peritumour DCE-MR images were decomposed into three compartments, representing plasma input, fast-flow kinetics, and slow-flow kinetics. The tumour subregion related to fast-flow kinetics showed the best performance among the subregions for differentiating between patients with four molecular subtypes (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) = 0.832), exhibiting an AUC value significantly (p < 0.0001) higher than that obtained with the entire tumour (AUC = 0.719). When the tumour- and parenchyma-based predictive models were fused, the performance, measured as the AUC, increased to 0.897; this value was significantly higher than that obtained with other tumour partition methods.


Radiomic analysis of intratumoural and peritumoural heterogeneity based on the decomposition of image time-series signals has the potential to more accurately identify tumour kinetic features and serve as a valuable clinical marker to enhance the prediction of breast cancer subtypes.

Key Points

• Decomposition of image time-series signals has the potential to more accurately identify tumour kinetic features.

• Fusion of intratumoural- and peritumoural-based predictive models improves the prediction of breast cancer subtypes.

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Convex analysis of mixtures


Grey level co-occurrence matrix


Kinetic pattern clustering


Neoadjuvant chemotherapy


Peak enhancement rate


Partial-volume effect








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This work has received funding by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (61731008, 61871428, and 61401131), the Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province of China (LJ19H180001, LZ15F010001), and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) under Award No. URF/1/3450-01.

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Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Maosheng Xu or Lihua Li.

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The scientific guarantor of this publication is Professor Lihua Li.

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The authors of this manuscript declare no relationships with any companies, whose products or services may be related to the subject matter of the article.

Statistics and biometry

No complex statistical methods were necessary for this paper.

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Written informed consent was waived by the Institutional Review Board.

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Fan, M., Zhang, P., Wang, Y. et al. Radiomic analysis of imaging heterogeneity in tumours and the surrounding parenchyma based on unsupervised decomposition of DCE-MRI for predicting molecular subtypes of breast cancer. Eur Radiol 29, 4456–4467 (2019).

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  • Breast neoplasms
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Diagnostic imaging