Spatial Statistics for Tumor Cell Counting and Classification
To count and classify cells in histological sections is a standard task in histology. One example is the grading of meningiomas, benign tumors of the meninges, which requires to assess the fraction of proliferating cells in an image. As this process is very time consuming when performed manually, automation is required. To address such problems, we propose a novel application of Markov point process methods in computer vision, leading to algorithms for computing the locations of circular objects in images. In contrast to previous algorithms using such spatial statistics methods in image analysis, the present one is fully trainable. This is achieved by combining point process methods with statistical classifiers. Using simulated data, the method proposed in this paper will be shown to be more accurate and more robust to noise than standard image processing methods. On the publicly available SIMCEP benchmark for cell image analysis algorithms, the cell count performance of the present paper is significantly more accurate than results published elsewhere, especially when cells form dense clusters. Furthermore, the proposed system performs as well as a state-of-the-art algorithm for the computer-aided histological grading of meningiomas when combined with a simple k-nearest neighbor classifier for identifying proliferating cells.