Personalized pancreatic cancer management: a systematic review of how machine learning is supporting decision-making

Alison Bradley, Robert Van Der Meer, Colin McKay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


This review critically analyzes how machine learning is being utilized to support clinical decision-making in the management of potentially resectable pancreatic cancer. Following PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines, electronic searches of MEDLINE, Embase, PubMed and Cochrane Database were undertaken. Studies were assessed using the Checklist for critical Appraisal and data extraction for systematic Reviews of prediction Modeling Studies (CHARMS) checklist. In total 89,959 citations were retrieved.

Six studies met the inclusion criteria. Three studies were Markov decision-analysis models comparing neoadjuvant therapy versus upfront surgery. Three studies predicted survival time using Bayesian modeling (n = 1), Artificial Neural Network (n = 1), and one study explored machine learning algorithms including: Bayesian Network, decision trees, nearest neighbor, and Artificial Neural Networks.

The main methodological issues identified were: limited data sources which limits generalizability and potentiates bias, lack of external validation, and the need for transparency in methods of internal validation, consecutive sampling, and selection of candidate predictors.

The future direction of research relies on expanding our view of the multidisciplinary team to include professionals from computing and data science with algorithms developed in conjunction with clinicians and viewed as aids, not replacement, to traditional clinical decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)598-604
Number of pages7
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • pancreatic cancer
  • personalised medicine
  • machine learning
  • decision making


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