Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Science


Heng-Da Cheng


Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death of women worldwide. Accurate lesion boundary detection is important for breast cancer diagnosis. Since many crucial features for discriminating benign and malignant lesions are based on the contour, shape, and texture of the lesion, an accurate segmentation method is essential for a successful diagnosis. Ultrasound is an effective screening tool and primarily useful for differentiating benign and malignant lesions. However, due to inherent speckle noise and low contrast of breast ultrasound imaging, automatic lesion segmentation is still a challenging task. This research focuses on developing a novel, effective, and fully automatic lesion segmentation method for breast ultrasound images. By incorporating empirical domain knowledge of breast structure, a region of interest is generated. Then, a novel enhancement algorithm (using a novel phase feature) and a newly developed neutrosophic clustering method are developed to detect the precise lesion boundary. Neutrosophy is a recently introduced branch of philosophy that deals with paradoxes, contradictions, antitheses, and antinomies. When neutrosophy is used to segment images with vague boundaries, its unique ability to deal with uncertainty is brought to bear. In this work, we apply neutrosophy to breast ultrasound image segmentation and propose a new clustering method named neutrosophic l-means. We compare the proposed method with traditional fuzzy c-means clustering and three other well-developed segmentation methods for breast ultrasound images, using the same database. Both accuracy and time complexity are analyzed. The proposed method achieves the best accuracy (TP rate is 94.36%, FP rate is 8.08%, and similarity rate is 87.39%) with a fairly rapid processing speed (about 20 seconds). Sensitivity analysis shows the robustness of the proposed method as well. Cases with multiple-lesions and severe shadowing effect (shadow areas having similar intensity values of the lesion and tightly connected with the lesion) are not included in this study.


This work made publicly available electronically on May 11, 2011.