A deep learning system accurately classifies primary and metastatic cancers using passenger mutation patterns

PCAWG Tumor Subtypes and Clinical Translation Working Group, PCAWG Consortium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations

Abstract

In cancer, the primary tumour’s organ of origin and histopathology are the strongest determinants of its clinical behaviour, but in 3% of cases a patient presents with a metastatic tumour and no obvious primary. Here,as part of the ICGC/TCGA Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium, we train a deep learning classifier to predict cancer type based on patterns of somatic passenger mutations detected in whole genome sequencing (WGS) of 2606 tumours representing 24 common cancer types produced by the PCAWG Consortium. Our classifier achieves an accuracy of 91% on held-out tumor samples and 88% and 83% respectively on independent primary and metastatic samples, roughly double the accuracy of trained pathologists when presented with a metastatic tumour without knowledge of the primary. Surprisingly, adding information on driver mutations reduced accuracy. Our results have clinical applicability, underscore how patterns of somatic passenger mutations encode the state of the cell of origin, and can inform future strategies to detect the source of circulating tumour DNA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number728
JournalNature communications
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy

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