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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2007 Sep;104(3):249-55. Epub 2006 Oct 19.

In vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy of breast lesions: an update.

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Department of Anatomical and Cellular Pathology, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong.


In vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H-MRS) has been demonstrated to be successful in the differentiation of benign and malignant breast lesions in a non-invasive manner by detecting increased levels of composite choline (Cho) compounds. Currently there is molecular evidence of increased Cho metabolism in breast cancer cells. In breast malignancies, (1)H-MRS achieved a high-overall sensitivity (82%). Most test cases were infiltrating duct carcinoma, but infiltrating lobular, medullary, mucinous and adenoid cystic carcinomas were also positive by (1)H-MRS. Large lesional size is a pre-requisite for (1)H-MRS testing, and technical problems account for some of the false negative results. Another potential of (1)H-MRS is to assess patients' response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. In ductal carcinoma in situ, the results of (1)H-MRS on the limited number of cases were negative. Most of the assessed benign breast lesions including fibroadenoma, fibrocystic changes, cysts and galactoceles, papilloma, tubular adenoma and phyllodes tumours and were mostly negative by (1)H-MRS, with an overall false positive rate was about 8%. Normal breast tissue was almost always negative by (1)H-MRS, whereas, lactating breast tissue showed positivity with a slightly different spectrum on further analysis. With the clinical use of stronger field MR scanners and better coils, the sensitivity of (1)H-MRS may be further improved. With these improvements, (1)H-MRS may potentially be useful in detection of smaller malignant lesions, characterization of malignant lesions into non-invasive or invasive, and as an invaluable tool in disease progression monitoring.

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