Prior CT Improves Deep Learning for Malignancy Risk Estimation of Screening-detected Pulmonary Nodules

Deep learning for estimating malignancy risk of lung nodules using prior CT
In Radiology


Prior chest CT provides valuable temporal information (eg, changes in nodule size or appearance) to accurately estimate malignancy risk.


To develop a deep learning (DL) algorithm that uses a current and prior low-dose CT examination to estimate 3-year malignancy risk of pulmonary nodules.

Materials and Methods

In this retrospective study, the algorithm was trained using National Lung Screening Trial data (collected from 2002 to 2004), wherein patients were imaged at most 2 years apart, and evaluated with two external test sets from the Danish Lung Cancer Screening Trial (DLCST) and the Multicentric Italian Lung Detection Trial (MILD), collected in 2004–2010 and 2005–2014, respectively. Performance was evaluated using area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) on cancer-enriched subsets with size-matched benign nodules imaged 1 and 2 years apart from DLCST and MILD, respectively. The algorithm was compared with a validated DL algorithm that only processed a single CT examination and the Pan-Canadian Early Lung Cancer Detection Study (PanCan) model.


The training set included 10 508 nodules (422 malignant) in 4902 trial participants (mean age, 64 years ± 5 [SD]; 2778 men). The size-matched external test sets included 129 nodules (43 malignant) and 126 nodules (42 malignant). The algorithm achieved AUCs of 0.91 (95% CI: 0.85, 0.97) and 0.94 (95% CI: 0.89, 0.98). It significantly outperformed the DL algorithm that only processed a single CT examination (AUC, 0.85 [95% CI: 0.78, 0.92; P = .002]; and AUC, 0.89 [95% CI: 0.84, 0.95; P = .01]) and the PanCan model (AUC, 0.64 [95% CI: 0.53, 0.74; P < .001]; and AUC, 0.63 [95% CI: 0.52, 0.74; P < .001]).


A DL algorithm using current and prior low-dose CT examinations was more effective at estimating 3-year malignancy risk of pulmonary nodules than established models that only use a single CT examination.


The algorithm can be accessed on

Kiran Vaidhya Venkadesh
Kiran Vaidhya Venkadesh
Postdoctoral researcher

My research interests revolve around the use of AI in radiology.