Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), usually known as hepatoma, is the third leading cause of cancer mortality globally. Early detection of HCC helps in its treatment and increases survival rates. Objective: The aim of this study is to develop a deep learning model, using the trend and severity of each medical event from the electronic health record to accurately predict the patients who will be diagnosed with HCC in 1 year. Methods: Patients with HCC were screened out from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan between 1999 and 2013. To be included, the patients with HCC had to register as patients with cancer in the catastrophic illness file and had to be diagnosed as a patient with HCC in an inpatient admission. The control cases (non-HCC patients) were randomly sampled from the same database. We used age, gender, diagnosis code, drug code, and time information as the input variables of a convolution neural network model to predict those patients with HCC. We also inspected the highly weighted variables in the model and compared them to their odds ratio at HCC to understand how the predictive model works Results: We included 47,945 individuals, 9553 of whom were patients with HCC. The area under the receiver operating curve (AUROC) of the model for predicting HCC risk 1 year in advance was 0.94 (95% CI 0.937-0.943), with a sensitivity of 0.869 and a specificity 0.865. The AUROC for predicting HCC patients 7 days, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years early were 0.96, 0.94, 0.94, 0.91, and 0.91, respectively. Conclusions: The findings of this study show that the convolutional neural network model has immense potential to predict the risk of HCC 1 year in advance with minimal features available in the electronic health records.
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