A Systematic Heuristic Approach for Feature Selection for Melanoma Discrimination using Clinical Images


Background: Numerous features are derived from the asymmetry, border irregularity, color variegation, and diameter of the skin lesion in dermatology for diagnosing malignant melanoma. Feature selection for the development of automated skin lesion discrimination systems is an important consideration. Methods: In this research, a systematic heuristic approach is investigated for feature selection and lesion classification. The approach integrates statistical-, correlation-, histogram-, and expert system-based components. Using statistical and correlation measures, interrelationships among features are determined. Expert system analysis is performed to identify redundant features. The feature selection process is applied to 19 shape and color features for a clinical image data set containing 355 malignant melanomas, 125 basal cell carcinomas, 177 dysplastic nevi, 199 nevocellular nevi, 139 seborrheic keratoses, and 45 vascular lesions. Results: Experimental results show reduced lesion classification error rates based on condensing the shape and color feature set from 19 features to 13 features using the feature selection process. Specifically, average test lesion classification error rates for discriminating malignant melanoma from non-melanoma lesions were reduced from 26.6% for 19 features to 23.2% for 13 features over five randomly generated training and test sets. Conclusions: The experimental results show that the systematic heuristic approach for feature reduction can be successfully applied to achieve improved lesion discrimination. The feature reduction technique facilitates the elimination of redundant information that may inhibit lesion classification performance. The clinical application of this result is that automated skin lesion classification algorithm development can be fostered with systematic feature selection techniques.


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Second Department



National Institute of Health (U.S.)

Keywords and Phrases

Color Analysis; Image Analysis; Malignant Melanoma; Skin Lesion

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2005 John Wiley & Sons, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2005