A roadmap towards breast cancer therapies supported by explainable artificial intelligence.

Nicola Amoroso, Domenico Pomarico, Annarita Fanizzi, Vittorio Didonna, Francesco Giotta, Daniele La Forgia, Agnese Latorre, Alfonso Monaco, Ester Pantaleo, Nicole Petruzzellis, Pasquale Tamborra, Alfredo Zito, Vito Lorusso, Roberto Bellotti, Raffaella Massafra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years personalized medicine reached an increasing importance, especially in the design of oncological therapies. In particular, the development of patients’ profiling strategies suggests the possibility of promising rewards. In this work, we present an explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) framework based on an adaptive dimensional reduction which (i) outlines the most important clinical features for oncological patients’ profiling and (ii), based on these features, determines the profile, i.e., the cluster a patient belongs to. For these purposes, we collected a cohort of 267 breast cancer patients. The adopted dimensional reduction method determines the relevant subspace where distances among patients are used by a hierarchical clustering procedure to identify the corresponding optimal categories. Our results demonstrate how the molecular subtype is the most important feature for clustering. Then, we assessed the robustness of current therapies and guidelines; our findings show a striking correspondence between available patients’ profiles determined in an unsupervised way and either molecular subtypes or therapies chosen according to guidelines, which guarantees the interpretability characterizing explainable approaches to machine learning techniques. Accordingly, our work suggests the possibility to design data-driven therapies to emphasize the differences observed among the patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4881
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Breast cancer
  • Cluster analysis
  • Explainable artificial intelligence
  • Molecular subtype
  • Relevant features

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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