Dermoscopic Image Classification with Neural Style Transfer

Yutong Li, Ruoqing Zhu, Mike Yeh, Annie Qu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Skin cancer, the most commonly found human malignancy, is primarily diagnosed visually via dermoscopic analysis, biopsy and histopathological examination. However, unlike other types of cancer, automated image classification of skin lesions is deemed to be more challenging due to the irregularity and variability in the lesions’ appearances. In this work, we propose an adaptation of the Neural Style Transfer (NST) as a novel image preprocessing step for skin lesion classification problems. We represent each dermoscopic image as a style image and transfer the style of the lesion onto a homogeneous content image. This transfers the main variability of each lesion onto the same localized region, which allows us to integrate the generated images together and extract low-rank latent embeddings via tensor decomposition. We evaluated the performance of our model on competition datasets collected and preprocessed from the International Skin Imaging Collaboration (ISIC) database. We show that the classification performance based on the extracted tensor features using the style-transferred images significantly outperforms that of the raw images by more than 10%, and is also competitive with well-studied, pretrained CNN models using transfer learning. Additionally, the tensor decomposition also affords clinical interpretations and insights by examining the images which correspond to the largest loadings in the top style embedding features as identified by the common supervised learning models. Supplementary materials for this article are available online.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1318-1331
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Computational and Graphical Statistics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022


  • CNN
  • Medical image preprocessing
  • Melanoma classification
  • Tensor decomposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Discrete Mathematics and Combinatorics


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