MRI can predict breast cancer recurrence
Radiological techniques using MRI can predict the risk of recurrence of breast cancer as per new research conducted at the University of California-San Francisco. The method utilizes measurement of breast cancer tumor volume, before and after treatment for breast cancer and estimates the reduction in tumor volume to predict the risk of breast cancer recurrence.
The researchers measured initial breast cancer tumor volume of 58 patients with breast cancer prior to undergoing chemotherapy. MRI was again repeated after completion of chemotherapy. The researchers have found that the initial breast cancer tumor volume was a good predictor of subsequent disease free survival. If the woman had tumor volume of 33 cm 3 or less initially that patient has a 93 percent chance of remaining disease free after 2 years. This compares with only 70 percent chance of remaining disease free at 2 years for women who have larger tumor volume. Savannah C. Partridge, PhD, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Washington, Seattle emphasizes the importance of early detection of breast cancer.
The study also found that the change in breast cancer tumor volume with the chemotherapy was also a good predictor of disease free survival. Patients who had 50 percent of or more reduction of the breast cancer tumor volume with chemotherapy as detected by MRI had a better disease free survival compared to women who had less than 50 percent reduction in the breast cancer tumor volume. The figures for these two groups of patients were 87 percent and 64 percent disease free survival in two years and this is independent of initial breast cancer tumor volume.
This MRI evaluation is useful because currently oncologists are assessing the responsiveness to chemotherapy by clinical examination and pathology. Both of these techniques have limitations. Clinical examination is not very sensitive to detect small changes in the breast cancer tumor volume. Pathological assessment can only be done at the completion of the chemotherapy after the remaining tumor is removed. MRI techniques to assess the tumor volume can be used to gauge the response to chemotherapy during the period of chemotherapy. As the study has shown if the breast cancer tumor volume reduction is related to disease free survival, a physician can monitor the change in breast cancer tumor volume using MRI techniques and modify the chemotherapy if needed.
Ref American Journal of Roentgenology, June 2005