Advancing equity in breast cancer care: natural language processing for analysing treatment outcomes in under-represented populations

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The study aimed to develop natural language processing (NLP) algorithms to automate extracting patient-centred breast cancer treatment outcomes from clinical notes in electronic health records (EHRs), particularly for women from under-represented populations.


The study used clinical notes from 2010 to 2021 from a tertiary hospital in the USA. The notes were processed through various NLP techniques, including vectorisation methods (term frequency-inverse document frequency (TF-IDF), Word2Vec, Doc2Vec) and classification models (support vector classification, K-nearest neighbours (KNN), random forest (RF)). Feature selection and optimisation through random search and fivefold cross-validation were also conducted.


The study annotated 100 out of 1000 clinical notes, using 970 notes to build the text corpus. TF-IDF and Doc2Vec combined with RF showed the highest performance, while Word2Vec was less effective. RF classifier demonstrated the best performance, although with lower recall rates, suggesting more false negatives. KNN showed lower recall due to its sensitivity to data noise.


The study highlights the significance of using NLP in analysing clinical notes to understand breast cancer treatment outcomes in under-represented populations. The TF-IDF and Doc2Vec models were more effective in capturing relevant information than Word2Vec. The study observed lower recall rates in RF models, attributed to the dataset’s imbalanced nature and the complexity of clinical notes.


The study developed high-performing NLP pipeline to capture treatment outcomes for breast cancer in under-represented populations, demonstrating the importance of document-level vectorisation and ensemble methods in clinical notes analysis. The findings provide insights for more equitable healthcare strategies and show the potential for broader NLP applications in clinical settings.

Park, J. I., Park, J. W., Zhang, K., Kim, D.

Park, J. I., Park, J. W., Zhang, K., Kim, D.

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