Evolutionary programming technique for reducing complexity of artificial neural networks for breast cancer diagnosis
An evolutionary programming (EP) technique was investigated to reduce the complexity of artificial neural network (ANN) models that predict the outcome of mammography-induced breast biopsy. By combining input variables consisting of mammography lesion descriptors and patient history data, the ANN predicted whether the lesion was benign or malignant, which may aide in reducing the number of unnecessary benign biopsies and thus the cost of mammography screening of breast cancer. The EP has the ability to optimize the ANN both structurally and parametrically. An EP was partially optimized using a data set of 882 biopsy-proven cases from Duke University Medical Center. Although many different architectures were evolved, the best were often perceptrons with no hidden nodes. A rank ordering of the inputs was performed using twenty independent EP runs. This confirmed the predictive value of the mass margin and patient age variables, and revealed the unexpected usefulness of the history of previous breast cancer. Further work is required to improve the performance of the EP over all cases in general and calcification cases in particular.