In this paper, we present a Deep Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) for fully automatic brain tumor segmentation for both high- and low-grade gliomas in MRI images. Unlike normal tissues or organs that usually have a fixed location or shape, brain tumors with different grades have shown great variation in terms of the location, size, structure, and morphological appearance. Moreover, the severe data imbalance exists not only between the brain tumor and non-tumor tissues, but also among the different sub-regions inside brain tumor (e.g., enhancing tumor, necrotic, edema, and non-enhancing tumor). Therefore, we introduce a hybrid model to address the challenges in the multi-modality multi-class brain tumor segmentation task. First, we propose the dynamic focal Dice loss function that is able to focus more on the smaller tumor sub-regions with more complex structures during training, and the learning capacity of the model is dynamically distributed to each class independently based on its training performance in different training stages. Besides, to better recognize the overall structure of the brain tumor and the morphological relationship among different tumor sub-regions, we relax the boundary constraints for the inner tumor regions in coarse-to-fine fashion. Additionally, a symmetric attention branch is proposed to highlight the possible location of the brain tumor from the asymmetric features caused by growth and expansion of the abnormal tissues in the brain. Generally, to balance the learning capacity of the model between spatial details and high-level morphological features, the proposed model relaxes the constraints of the inner boundary and complex details and enforces more attention on the tumor shape, location, and the harder classes of the tumor sub-regions. The proposed model is validated on the publicly available brain tumor dataset from real patients, BRATS 2019. The experimental results reveal that our model improves the overall segmentation performance in comparison with the state-of-the-art methods, with major progress on the recognition of the tumor shape, the structural relationship of tumor sub-regions, and the segmentation of more challenging tumor sub-regions, e.g., the tumor core, and enhancing tumor.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.