Frontiers in Oncology

Artificial intelligence-based prediction of overall survival in metastatic renal cell carcinoma

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Background and objectives: Investigations of the prognosis are vital for better patient management and decision-making in patients with advanced metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the capacity of emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to predict three- and five-year overall survival (OS) for mRCC patients starting their first-line of systemic treatment. Patients and methods: The retrospective study included 322 Italian patients with mRCC who underwent systemic treatment between 2004 and 2019. Statistical analysis included the univariate and multivariate Cox proportional-hazard model and the Kaplan-Meier analysis for the prognostic factors’ investigation. The patients were split into a training cohort to establish the predictive models and a hold-out cohort to validate the results. The models were evaluated by the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), sensitivity, and specificity. We assessed the clinical benefit of the models using decision curve analysis (DCA). Then, the proposed AI models were compared with well-known pre-existing prognostic systems Results: The median age of patients in the study was 56.7 years at RCC diagnosis and 78% of participants were male. The median survival time from the start of systemic treatment was 29.2 months; 95% of the patients died during the follow-up that finished by the end of 2019. The proposed predictive model, which was constructed as an ensemble of three individual predictive models, outperformed all well-known prognostic models to which it was compared. It also demonstrated better usability in supporting clinical decisions for 3- and 5-year OS. The model achieved (0.786 and 0.771) AUC and (0.675 and 0.558) specificity at sensitivity 0.90 for 3 and 5 years, respectively. We also applied explainability methods to identify the important clinical features that were found to be partially matched with the prognostic factors identified in the Kaplan-Meier and Cox analyses. Conclusions: Our AI models provide best predictive accuracy and clinical net benefits over well-known prognostic models. As a result, they can potentially be used in clinical practice for providing better management for mRCC patients starting their first-line of systemic treatment. Larger studies would be needed to validate the developed model