Study links MRI biomarkers with breast cancer prognosis

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Certain MRI biomarkers may provide an early prediction of how a breast cancer patient will respond to the first cycle of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and they may help determine whether additional treatment is necessary, according to a new study.

"The potential clinical benefits are to predict the neoadjuvant chemotherapy response in patients with breast cancer early in the course of treatment, allowing changes in the treatment if the response is not as expected," said Dr. Ruth Bonini, PhD, a research fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a breast radiologist at Barretos Cancer Hospital in São Paulo.

The study included 45 biopsy-proven breast cancer patients who underwent a baseline MRI scan and a follow-up exam after one round of neoadjuvant chemotherapy to determine the response to treatment. The average time between baseline and the first postneoadjuvant chemotherapy MRI scan was 30 days.

A breast imaging radiologist divided precontrast and first postcontrast MR images at baseline and first postneoadjuvant chemotherapy MRI using computer-aided detection (CAD) software. The radiologist also evaluated 57 metrics to quantify the shape, morphology, distribution, geometry, and texture of each cancer.

In all, the researchers discovered 26 metrics (45%) on precontrast MRI and 28 metrics (49%) on postcontrast MRI that showed statistically significant percentage changes in complete or significant pathologic response and partial or no pathologic response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

"This MRI quantitative technique may detect alterations in the tumor heterogeneity secondary to treatment before the usual parameters such as diameter and volume measurements would indicate response," Bonini told AuntMinnie.com.

Interestingly, standard morphological metrics such as volume, surface area, maximum 3D diameter, and compactness were not as influential in predicting treatment response.

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