Memory-aware curriculum federated learning for breast cancer classification

Amelia Jiménez Sánchez, Mickael Tardy, Miguel Angel González Ballester, Diana Mateus, Gemma Piella

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Background and Objective: For early breast cancer detection, regular screening with mammography imaging is recommended. Routine examinations result in datasets with a predominant amount of negative samples. The limited representativeness of positive cases can be problematic for learning Computer-Aided Diagnosis (CAD) systems. Collecting data from multiple institutions is a potential solution to mitigate this problem. Recently, federated learning has emerged as an effective tool for collaborative learning. In this setting, local models perform computation on their private data to update the global model. The order and the frequency of local updates influence the final global model. In the context of federated adversarial learning to improve multi-site breast cancer classification, we investigate the role of the order in which samples are locally presented to the optimizers.

Methods: We define a novel memory-aware curriculum learning method for the federated setting. We aim to improve the consistency of the local models penalizing inconsistent predictions, i.e., forgotten samples. Our curriculum controls the order of the training samples prioritizing those that are forgotten after the deployment of the global model. Our approach is combined with unsupervised domain adaptation to deal with domain shift while preserving data privacy.

Results: Two classification metrics: area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC-AUC) and area under the curve for the precision-recall curve (PR-AUC) are used to evaluate the performance of the proposed method. Our method is evaluated with three clinical datasets from different vendors. An ablation study showed the improvement of each component of our method. The AUC and PR-AUC are improved on average by 5% and 6%, respectively, compared to the conventional federated setting.

Conclusions: We demonstrated the benefits of curriculum learning for the first time in a federated setting. Our results verified the effectiveness of the memory-aware curriculum federated learning for the multi-site breast cancer classification. Our code is publicly available at:
Original languageEnglish
JournalComputer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2022


  • Curriculum learning
  • Mammography
  • Malignancy classification
  • Federated learning
  • Domain adaptation
  • Data sharing
  • Data scheduling


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