A Bayesian derived network of breast pathology co-occurrence

Susan M. Maskery*, Hai Hu, Jeffrey Hooke, Craig D. Shriver, Michael N. Liebman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In this paper, we present the validation and verification of a machine-learning based Bayesian network of breast pathology co-occurrence. The present/not present occurrences of 29 common breast pathologies from 1631 pathology reports were used to build the network. All pathology reports were developed by a single pathologist. The resulting network has 25 diagnosis nodes interconnected by 40 arcs. Each arc represents a predicted co-occurrence or null co-occurrence. Model verification involved assessing the robustness of the original network structure after random exclusion of 25%, 50%, and 75% of the pathology report dataset. The structure of the network appears stable as random removal of 75% of the records in the original dataset leaves 81% of the original network intact. Model validation was primarily assessed by review of the breast pathology literature for each arc in the network. Almost all network identified co-occurrences (95%) have been published in the breast pathology literature or were verified by expert opinion. In conclusion, the Bayesian network of breast pathology co-occurrence presented here is both robust with respect to incomplete data and validated by consistency with the breast pathology literature and by expert opinion. Further, the ability to utilize a specific pathology observation to predict multiple co-current pathologies enables exploration of pathology co-occurrence patterns in an intuitive manner that may have broader application in both the breast pathologist clinical community and the breast cancer research community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-250
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biomedical Informatics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayesian analysis
  • Breast diseases
  • Breast neoplasms
  • Histopathology


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