MDPI, Cancers, 6(14), p. 1481, 2022
The high-level relationships that form complex networks within tumors and between surrounding tissue is challenging and not fully understood. To better understand these tumoral networks, we developed a tumor connectomics framework (TCF) based on graph theory with machine learning to model the complex interactions within and around the tumor microenvironment that are detectable on imaging. The TCF characterization model was tested with independent datasets of breast, brain, and prostate lesions with corresponding validation datasets in breast and brain cancer. The TCF network connections were modeled using graph metrics of centrality, average path length (APL), and clustering from multiparametric MRI with IsoSVM. The Matthews Correlation Coefficient (MCC), Area Under the Curve-ROC, and Precision-Recall (AUC-ROC and AUC-PR) were used for statistical analysis. The TCF classified the breast and brain tumor cohorts with an IsoSVM AUC-PR and MCC of 0.86, 0.63 and 0.85, 0.65, respectively. The TCF benign breast lesions had a significantly higher clustering coefficient and degree centrality than malignant TCFs. Grade 2 brain tumors demonstrated higher connectivity compared to Grade 4 tumors with increased degree centrality and clustering coefficients. Gleason 7 prostate lesions had increased betweenness centrality and APL compared to Gleason 6 lesions with AUC-PR and MCC ranging from 0.90 to 0.99 and 0.73 to 0.87, respectively. These TCF findings were similar in the validation breast and brain datasets. In conclusion, we present a new method for tumor characterization and visualization that results in a better understanding of the global and regional connections within the lesion and surrounding tissue.