Metastasis of cancer is directly related to death in almost all cases, however a lot is yet to be understood about this process. Despite advancements in the available radiological investigation techniques, not all cases of Distant Metastasis (DM) are diagnosed at initial clinical presentation. Also, there are currently no standard biomarkers of metastasis. Early, accurate diagnosis of DM is however crucial for clinical decision making, and planning of appropriate management strategies. Previous works have achieved little success in attempts to predict DM from either clinical, genomic, radiology, or histopathology data. In this work we attempt a multimodal approach to predict the presence of DM in cancer patients by combining gene expression data, clinical data and histopathology images. We tested a novel combination of Random Forest (RF) algorithm with an optimization technique for gene selection, and investigated if gene expression pattern in the primary tissues of three cancer types (Bladder Carcinoma, Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma, and Head and Neck Squamous Carcinoma) with DM are similar or different. Gene expression biomarkers of DM identified by our proposed method outperformed Differentially Expressed Genes (DEGs) identified by the DESeq2 software package in the task of predicting presence or absence of DM. Genes involved in DM tend to be more cancer type specific rather than general across all cancers. Our results also indicate that multimodal data is more predictive of metastasis than either of the three unimodal data tested, and genomic data provides the highest contribution by a wide margin. Also, the results re-emphasize the importance for availability of sufficient image data when a weakly supervised training technique is used. Code is made available at: https://github.com/rit-cui-lab/Multimodal-AI-for-Prediction-of-Distant-Metastasis-in-Carcinoma-Patients.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Metastasis--Diagnosis; Metastasis--Data processing; Artificial intelligence--Medical applications

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Bioinformatics (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences


College of Science


Feng Cui

Advisor/Committee Member

Gregory A. Babbitt

Advisor/Committee Member

Rui Li


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes