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NMR Biomed. 2011 Jul;24(6):712-20. doi: 10.1002/nbm.1739. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

MRI in breast cancer therapy monitoring.

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  • 1The UC Berkeley-UCSF Graduate Program in Bioengineering, University of California San Francisco and University of California Berkeley, CA, USA.


Breast MRI has several roles in the clinical management of breast cancer, including as a screening method for high-risk women, as a diagnostic tool used as an adjunct to mammography and ultrasound, and for the staging of disease extent prior to treatment. In addition to these uses, MRI is also employed to track small changes in tumor size and microenvironment. MRI has produced several early indicators of treatment response in clinical trials over the last 10  years, including initial lesion pattern, changes in lesion size, kinetic parameters, apparent diffusion coefficient and T(2) value; the related technique of (1) H MRS has also shown that choline concentration, T(2) value and water-to-fat ratio are response indicators. In addition to measuring anatomical changes in the lesion size, as performed in traditional radiology, MRI has the ability to track vascular and cellular changes using dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI and diffusion-weighted MRI, respectively. By adding (1) H MRS to MRI examinations, metabolic changes can also be determined. These functional imaging techniques allow studies to focus on early time points relative to neoadjuvant treatment. Early treatment response predictors may allow therapy to be tailored to individual patients and thus aid in the realization of the goal of personalized medicine.

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