Concordance in breast cancer grading by artificial intelligence on whole slide images compares with a multi-institutional cohort of breast pathologists

Document Type



Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Surgery


Context: Breast carcinoma grade, as determined by the Nottingham Grading System (NGS), is an important criterion for determining prognosis. The NGS is based on 3 parameters: tubule formation (TF), nuclear pleomorphism (NP), and mitotic count (MC). The advent of digital pathology and artificial intelligence (AI) have increased interest in virtual microscopy using digital whole slide imaging (WSI) more broadly.
Objective: To compare concordance in breast carcinoma grading between AI and a multi-institutional group of breast pathologists using digital WSI.
Design: We have developed an automated NGS framework using deep learning. Six pathologists and AI independently reviewed a digitally scanned slide from 137 invasive carcinomas and assigned a grade based on scoring of the TF, NP, and MC.
Results: Interobserver agreement for the pathologists and AI for overall grade was moderate (κ = 0.471). Agreement was good (κ = 0.681), moderate (κ = 0.442), and fair (κ = 0.368) for grades 1, 3, and 2, respectively. Observer pair concordance for AI and individual pathologists ranged from fair to good (κ = 0.313-0.606). Perfect agreement was observed in 25 cases (27.4%). Interobserver agreement for the individual components was best for TF (κ = 0.471 each) followed by NP (κ = 0.342) and was worst for MC (κ = 0.233). There were no observed differences in concordance amongst pathologists alone versus pathologists + AI.
Conclusions: Ours is the first study comparing concordance in breast carcinoma grading between a multi-institutional group of pathologists using virtual microscopy to a newly developed WSI AI methodology. Using explainable methods, AI demonstrated similar concordance to pathologists alone.


Volume, issue, and pagination are not provided by the author/publisher

Publication (Name of Journal)

Archives of pathology & laboratory medicine