Privacy-preserving cancer type prediction with homomorphic encryption

Esha Sarkar, Eduardo Chielle, Gamze Gursoy, Leo Chen, Mark Gerstein, Michail Maniatakos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer genomics tailors diagnosis and treatment based on an individual’s genetic information and is the crux of precision medicine. However, analysis and maintenance of high volume of genetic mutation data to build a machine learning (ML) model to predict the cancer type is a computationally expensive task and is often outsourced to powerful cloud servers, raising critical privacy concerns for patients’ data. Homomorphic encryption (HE) enables computation on encrypted data, thus, providing cryptographic guarantees to protect privacy. But restrictive overheads of encrypted computation deter its usage. In this work, we explore the challenges of privacy preserving cancer type prediction using a dataset consisting of more than 2 million genetic mutations from 2713 patients for several cancer types by building a highly accurate ML model and then implementing its privacy preserving version in HE. Our solution for cancer type inference encodes somatic mutations based on their impact on the cancer genomes into the feature space and then uses statistical tests for feature selection. We propose a fast matrix multiplication algorithm for HE-based model. Our final model achieves 0.98 micro-average area under curve improving accuracy from 70.08 to 83.61% , being 550 times faster than the standard matrix multiplication-based privacy-preserving models. Our tool can be found at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1661
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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