Assessment of Breast Cancer Risk in an Iranian Female Population Using Bayesian Networks with Varying Node Number

Document Type : Research Articles


1 colorectal Research Center, Shiraz Uiversity of Medical Sciences, Shiraz , Iran.

2 Baqyiatallah University of Medical Sciences


Objective: As a source of information, medical data can feature hidden relationships. However, the high volume of datasets and complexity of decision-making in medicine introduce difficulties for analysis and interpretation and processing steps may be needed before the data can be used by clinicians in their work. This study focused on the use of Bayesian models with different numbers of nodes to aid clinicians in breast cancer risk estimation. Methods: Bayesian networks (BNs) with a retrospectively collected dataset including mammographic details, risk factor exposure, and clinical findings was assessed for prediction of the probability of breast cancer in individual patients. Area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve (AUC), accuracy, sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values were used to evaluate discriminative performance. Result: A network incorporating selected features performed better (AUC = 0.94) than that incorporating all the features (AUC = 0.93). The results revealed no significant difference among 3 models regarding performance indices at the 5% significance level. Conclusion: BNs could effectively discriminate malignant from benign abnormalities and accurately predict the risk of breast cancer in individuals. Moreover, the overall performance of the 9-node BN was better, and due to the lower number of nodes it might be more readily be applied in clinical settings.