Traditional risk assessment models do not leverage the level of detail that is contained within a mammogram," said study author Leslie Lamb from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the US.
"Even the best existing traditional risk models may separate sub-groups of patients but are not as precise on the individual level," Lamb added.
Currently available risk assessment models incorporate only a small fraction of patient data such as family history, prior breast biopsies, and hormonal and reproductive history.
Only one feature from the screening mammogram itself, breast density, is incorporated into traditional models.
The research team has developed the new deep learning algorithm to predict breast cancer risk using data from five MGH breast cancer screening sites.
The model was developed on a population that included women with a personal history of breast cancer, implants or prior biopsies.
The study included 245,753 consecutive 2D digital bilateral screening mammograms performed in 80,818 patients between 2009 and 2016.
From the total mammograms, 210,819 exams in 56,831 patients were used for training, 25,644 exams from 7,021 patients for testing, and 9,290 exams from 3,961 patients for validation.
Using statistical analysis, the researchers compared the accuracy of the deep learning image-only model to a commercially available risk assessment model (Tyrer-Cuzick version 8) in predicting future breast cancer within five years of the index mammogram.
The deep learning model achieved a predictive rate of 0.71, significantly outperforming the traditional risk model, which achieved a rate of 0.61.
"Our deep learning model is able to translate the full diversity of subtle imaging biomarkers in the mammogram that can predict a woman's future risk for breast cancer," Lamb said.
The study is scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) from November 29 to December 5.