Background: Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease defined by molecular types and subtypes. Advances in genomic research have enabled use of precision medicine in clinical management of breast cancer. A critical unmet medical need is distinguishing triple negative breast cancer, the most aggressive and lethal form of breast cancer, from non-triple negative breast cancer. Here we propose use of a machine learning (ML) approach for classification of triple negative breast cancer and non-triple negative breast cancer patients using gene expression data. Methods: We performed analysis of RNA-Sequence data from 110 triple negative and 992 non-triple negative breast cancer tumor samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas to select the features (genes) used in the development and validation of the classification models. We evaluated four different classification models including Support Vector Machines, K-nearest neighbor, Naïve Bayes and Decision tree using features selected at different threshold levels to train the models for classifying the two types of breast cancer. For performance evaluation and validation, the proposed methods were applied to independent gene expression datasets. Results: Among the four ML algorithms evaluated, the Support Vector Machine algorithm was able to classify breast cancer more accurately into triple negative and non-triple negative breast cancer and had less misclassification errors than the other three algorithms evaluated. Conclusions: The prediction results show that ML algorithms are efficient and can be used for classification of breast cancer into triple negative and non-triple negative breast cancer types.
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