Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings were found to be a stronger predictor of pathologic responses to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) in women with locally advanced breast cancer than was clinical assessment, with the greatest advantage observed with the use of volumetric measurement of tumor response early in treatment.

Angiogenesis is an earlier and more accurate marker of tumor response than are clinical measurements of tumor size and location, according to information from the Radiological Society of North America. Contrast-enhanced MRI offers a promising alternative to the clinical approach due to its ability to detect angiogenesis.

Nola M. Hylton, PhD, professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at the University of California, San Francisco, and fellow researchers analyzed data from 216 women, aged 26 to 68 years, who had stage II or III breast cancer and two or more imaging time points. MRI sessions had been performed before, during, and after administration of a chemotherapy regimen, and imaging results were correlated with subsequent laboratory analysis of surgical samples.

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At all time points, MRI size measurements were superior to clinical examination in predicting pathologic complete response and residual cancer burden. Tumor volume change showed the greatest relative benefit at the second MRI examination.

Hylton’s group detailed their findings in the journal Radiology.