Using Public Datasets PANDA and TCGA-Crck

Setting up your storage account and tools

Your Azure account needs to have permissions to write to the storage account. You need to have, for example, “Storage Blob Data Contributor” permissions.

Your storage account should have a container called datasets. Verify in the Azure Portal that this container exists: You can do that by going to the “Containers” section in the left-hand navigation. If there is no such container, create one with the “+ Container” button.

To upload datasets to Azure, we recommend using azcopy. You will first need to log in, by calling azcopy login. Follow the instructions at the prompt.

PANDA Dataset

The PANDA dataset was released with the Prostate cANcer graDe Assessment (PANDA) Challenge. The dataset is available from Kaggle. To get access to the dataset, you need to register with Kaggle, then press “Download all”. This will download a 200GB ZIP file.


Now unzip the ZIP file. Then rename the folder in which the files reside to PANDA. To double-check, there should now be a file PANDA/train.csv in your current directory.

head PANDA/train.csv  # just to check if we are in the right folder
azcopy copy PANDA https://<your_storage_account> --recursive

TCGA-Crck Dataset

This dataset contains histological images from patients with colorectal cancer, available from here.

To download and prepare the dataset, please run the following commands in a Linux shell in the root folder of the git repository. To prepare:

  • In the last statement, where we upload the full dataset to Azure, replace <your_storage_account> with the name of your Azure storage account.

  • For Python to pick up the paths in hi-ml-cpath/src/histopathology/scripts/, you need to add the `hi

Note: Depending on the speed of your internet connection, this script can run for several hours because it downloads a total of more than 20GB of files. It is advantageous to run the script in a Virtual Machine in Azure (downloading can be easily automated because no authentication is required).

mkdir TCGA-Crck
cd TCGA-Crck
# Download the files and unzip into folder broken down by Train/Test
for file in
    unzip $file -d CRC_DX_TRAIN
    rm $file
for file in
    unzip $file -d CRC_DX_TEST
    rm $file
# Create a summary file dataset.csv with all file paths and class labels
cd ..
export PYTHONPATH=`pwd`/hi-ml-cpath/src
python hi-ml-cpath/src/histopathology/scripts/
# Upload
azcopy copy TCGA-Crck https://<your_storage_account> --recursive

Making your storage account accessible to AzureML

As a last step, you need to ensure that AzureML has access to your storage account. For that, you need to create a datastore. A datastore is an abstraction layer on top of the plain storage account, where AzureML stores an account key or access token that allows it to later download the data to the training machine.

To create the datastore, please follow the instructions here. Once the datastore is created, mark it as the default datastore.