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Pachetti, E.; Colantonio, S. 3D-Vision-Transformer Stacking Ensemble for Assessing Prostate Cancer Aggressiveness from T2w Images. Bioengineering 2023, 10, 1015.

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Vision transformers represent the cutting-edge topic in computer vision and are usually employed on two-dimensional data following a transfer learning approach. In this work, we propose a trained-from-scratch stacking ensemble of 3D-vision transformers to assess prostate cancer aggressiveness from T2-weighted images to help radiologists diagnose this disease without performing a biopsy. We trained 18 3D-vision transformers on T2-weighted axial acquisitions and combined them into two- and three-model stacking ensembles. We defined two metrics for measuring model prediction confidence, and we trained all the ensemble combinations according to a five-fold crossvalidation, evaluating their accuracy, confidence in predictions, and calibration. In addition, we optimized the 18 base ViTs and compared the best-performing base and ensemble models by retraining them on a 100-sample bootstrapped training set and evaluating each model on the hold-out test set. We compared the two distributions by calculating the median and the 95% confidence interval and performing a Wilcoxon signed-rank test. The best-performing 3D-vision-transformer stacking ensemble provided state-of-the-art results in terms of area under the receiving operating curve (0.89 [0.61–1]) and exceeded the area under the precision–recall curve of the base model of 22% (p < 0.001). However, it resulted to be less confident in classifying the positive class.