Using patient data similarities to predict radiation pneumonitis via a self-organizing map

Shifeng Chen, Sumin Zhou, Fang Fang Yin, Lawrence B. Marks, Shiva K. Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This work investigates the use of the self-organizing map (SOM) technique for predicting lung radiation pneumonitis (RP) risk. SOM is an effective method for projecting and visualizing high-dimensional data in a low-dimensional space (map). By projecting patients with similar data (dose and non-dose factors) onto the same region of the map, commonalities in their outcomes can be visualized and categorized. Once built, the SOM may be used to predict pneumonitis risk by identifying the region of the map that is most similar to a patient's characteristics. Two SOM models were developed from a database of 219 lung cancer patients treated with radiation therapy (34 clinically diagnosed with Grade 2+ pneumonitis). The models were: SOMall built from all dose and non-dose factors and, for comparison, SOMdose built from dose factors alone. Both models were tested using ten-fold cross validation and Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) analysis. Models SOMall and SOMdose yielded ten-fold cross-validated ROC areas of 0.73 (sensitivity/specificity = 71%/68%) and 0.67 (sensitivity/specificity = 63%/66%), respectively. The significant difference between the cross-validated ROC areas of these two models (p < 0.05) implies that non-dose features add important information toward predicting RP risk. Among the input features selected by model SOMall, the two with highest impact for increasing RP risk were: (a) higher mean lung dose and (b) chemotherapy prior to radiation therapy. The SOM model developed here may not be extrapolated to treatment techniques outside that used in our database, such as several-field lung intensity modulated radiation therapy or gated radiation therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-216
Number of pages14
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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