Image Analysis in Support of Computer-Assisted Cervical Cancer Screening

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Cervical cancer is a disease that annually claims the lives of over a quarter of a million women. A substantial number of these deaths could be prevented if population wide cancer screening, based on the Papanicolaou test, were globally available. The Papanicolaou test involves a visual review of cellular material obtained from the uterine cervix. While being relatively inexpensive from a material standpoint, the test requires highly trained cytology specialists to conduct the analysis. There is a great shortage of such specialists in developing countries, causing these to be grossly overrepresented in the mortality statistics. For the last 60 years, numerous attempts at constructing an automated system, able to perform the screening, have been made. Unfortunately, a cost-effective, automated system has yet to be produced.In this thesis, a set of methods, aimed to be used in the development of an automated screening system, are presented. These have been produced as part of an international cooperative effort to create a low-cost cervical cancer screening system. The contributions are linked to a number of key problems associated with the screening: Deciding which areas of a specimen that warrant analysis, delineating cervical cell nuclei, rejecting artefacts to make sure that only cells of diagnostic value are included when drawing conclusions regarding the final diagnosis of the specimen. Also, to facilitate efficient method development, two methods for creating synthetic images that mimic images acquired from specimen are described.