Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma has some of the worst prognostic outcomes among various cancer types. Detection of histologic patterns of pancreatic tumors is essential to predict prognosis and decide the treatment for patients. This histologic classification can have a large degree of variability even among expert pathologists.


To detect aggressive adenocarcinoma and less aggressive pancreatic tumors from nonneoplasm cases using a graph convolutional network–based deep learning model.


Our model uses a convolutional neural network to extract detailed information from every small region in a whole slide image. Then, we use a graph architecture to aggregate the extracted features from these regions and their positional information to capture the whole slide–level structure and make the final prediction.


We evaluated our model on an independent test set and achieved an F1 score of 0.85 for detecting neoplastic cells and ductal adenocarcinoma, significantly outperforming other baseline methods.


If validated in prospective studies, this approach has a great potential to assist pathologists in identifying adenocarcinoma and other types of pancreatic tumors in clinical settings.

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Author notes

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

Competing Interests

This research was supported in part by grants from the US National Library of Medicine (R01LM012837 and R01LM013833) and the US National Cancer Institute (R01CA249758).