In-Domain Transfer Learning Strategy for Tumor Detection on Brain MRI

Terzi D. S., Azgınoğlu N.

DIAGNOSTICS, vol.13, no.12, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 13 Issue: 12
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.3390/diagnostics13122110
  • Journal Name: DIAGNOSTICS
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, EMBASE, INSPEC, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: brain MRI, brain tumor detection, object detection, segmentation, transfer learning
  • Kayseri University Affiliated: Yes


Transfer learning has gained importance in areas where there is a labeled data shortage. However, it is still controversial as to what extent natural image datasets as pre-training sources contribute scientifically to success in different fields, such as medical imaging. In this study, the effect of transfer learning for medical object detection was quantitatively compared using natural and medical image datasets. Within the scope of this study, transfer learning strategies based on five different weight initialization methods were discussed. A natural image dataset MS COCO and brain tumor dataset BraTS 2020 were used as the transfer learning source, and Gazi Brains 2020 was used for the target. Mask R-CNN was adopted as a deep learning architecture for its capability to effectively handle both object detection and segmentation tasks. The experimental results show that transfer learning from the medical image dataset was found to be 10% more successful and showed 24% better convergence performance than the MS COCO pre-trained model, although it contains fewer data. While the effect of data augmentation on the natural image pre-trained model was 5%, the same domain pre-trained model was measured as 2%. According to the most widely used object detection metric, transfer learning strategies using MS COCO weights and random weights showed the same object detection performance as data augmentation. The performance of the most effective strategies identified in the Mask R-CNN model was also tested with YOLOv8. Results showed that even if the amount of data is less than the natural dataset, in-domain transfer learning is more efficient than cross-domain transfer learning. Moreover, this study demonstrates the first use of the Gazi Brains 2020 dataset, which was generated to address the lack of labeled and qualified brain MRI data in the medical field for in-domain transfer learning. Thus, knowledge transfer was carried out from the deep neural network, which was trained with brain tumor data and tested on a different brain tumor dataset.