Diagnosis of Salivary Gland Tumors Using Transfer Learning with Fine-Tuning and Gradual Unfreezing

Ping Chia Cheng, Hui Hua Kenny Chiang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ultrasound is the primary tool for evaluating salivary gland tumors (SGTs); however, tumor diagnosis currently relies on subjective features. This study aimed to establish an objective ultrasound diagnostic method using deep learning. We collected 446 benign and 223 malignant SGT ultrasound images in the training/validation set and 119 benign and 44 malignant SGT ultrasound images in the testing set. We trained convolutional neural network (CNN) models from scratch and employed transfer learning (TL) with fine-tuning and gradual unfreezing to classify malignant and benign SGTs. The diagnostic performances of these models were compared. By utilizing the pretrained ResNet50V2 with fine-tuning and gradual unfreezing, we achieved a 5-fold average validation accuracy of 0.920. The diagnostic performance on the testing set demonstrated an accuracy of 89.0%, a sensitivity of 81.8%, a specificity of 91.6%, a positive predictive value of 78.3%, and a negative predictive value of 93.2%. This performance surpasses that of other models in our study. The corresponding Grad-CAM visualizations were also presented to provide explanations for the diagnosis. This study presents an effective and objective ultrasound method for distinguishing between malignant and benign SGTs, which could assist in preoperative evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3333
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • convolutional neural network
  • deep learning
  • gradient-weighted class activation mapping (Grad-CAM)
  • salivary gland tumor
  • transfer learning
  • ultrasound


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