Radiomics Machine Learning Analysis of Clear Cell Renal Cell Carcinoma for Tumour Grade Prediction based on Intra-tumoural Subregion Heterogeneity

Abeer J. Alhussaini (Lead / Corresponding author), J. Douglas Steele, Adel Jawli, Ghulam Nabi (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Background: Renal cancers are among the top ten causes of cancer-specific mortality, of which the ccRCC subtype is responsible for most cases. The grading of ccRCC is important in determining tumour aggressiveness and clinical management.

Objectives: The objectives of this research were to predict the WHO/ISUP grade of ccRCC pre-operatively and characterise the heterogeneity of tumour sub-regions using radiomics and ML models, including comparison with pre-operative biopsy-determined grading in a sub-group.

Methods: Data were obtained from multiple institutions across two countries, including 391 patients with pathologically proven ccRCC. For analysis, the data were separated into four cohorts. Cohorts 1 and 2 included data from the respective institutions from the two countries, cohort 3 was the combined data from both cohort 1 and 2, and cohort 4 was a subset of cohort 1, for which both the biopsy and subsequent histology from resection (partial or total nephrectomy) were available. 3D image segmentation was carried out to derive a voxel of interest (VOI) mask. Radiomics features were then extracted from the contrast-enhanced images, and the data were normalised. The Pearson correlation coefficient and the XGBoost model were used to reduce the dimensionality of the features. Thereafter, 11 ML algorithms were implemented for the purpose of predicting the ccRCC grade and characterising the heterogeneity of sub-regions in the tumours.

Results: For cohort 1, the 50% tumour core and 25% tumour periphery exhibited the best performance, with an average AUC of 77.9% and 78.6%, respectively. The 50% tumour core presented the highest performance in cohorts 2 and 3, with average AUC values of 87.6% and 76.9%, respectively. With the 25% periphery, cohort 4 showed AUC values of 95.0% and 80.0% for grade prediction when using internal and external validation, respectively, while biopsy histology had an AUC of 31.0% for the classification with the final grade of resection histology as a reference standard. The CatBoost classifier was the best for each of the four cohorts with an average AUC of 80.0%, 86.5%, 77.0% and 90.3% for cohorts 1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively.

Conclusions: Radiomics signatures combined with ML have the potential to predict the WHO/ISUP grade of ccRCC with superior performance, when compared to pre-operative biopsy. Moreover, tumour sub-regions contain useful information that should be analysed independently when determining the tumour grade. Therefore, it is possible to distinguish the grade of ccRCC pre-operatively to improve patient care and management.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1454
Number of pages36
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2024


  • clear cell renal cell carcinoma
  • renal masses
  • biopsy
  • computed tomography
  • radiomics
  • machine learning
  • tumour sub-regions
  • tumour heterogeneity
  • precision medicine


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