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Radiology. 2011 Dec;261(3):735-43. doi: 10.1148/radiol.11110814. Epub 2011 Aug 30.

Breast cancer: evaluation of response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy with 3.0-T MR imaging.

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Tu and Yuen Center for Functional Onco-Imaging and Department of Radiological Sciences, University of California, 164 Irvine Hall, Irvine, CA 92697-5020, USA.



To assess how the molecular biomarker status of a breast cancer, including human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), hormone receptors, and the proliferation marker Ki-67 status, affects the diagnosis at 3.0-T magnetic resonance (MR) imaging.


This study was approved by the institutional review board and was HIPAA compliant. Fifty patients (age range, 28-82 years; mean age, 49 years) receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy were monitored with 3.0-T MR imaging. The longest dimension of the residual cancer was measured at MR imaging and correlated with pathologic findings. Patients were further divided into subgroups on the basis of HER2, hormone receptor, and Ki-67 status. Pathologic complete response (pCR) was defined as when there were no residual invasive cancer cells. The Pearson correlation was used to correlate MR imaging-determined and pathologic tumor size, and the unpaired t test was used to compare MR imaging-pathologic size discrepancies.


Of the 50 women, 14 achieved pCR. There were seven false-negative diagnoses at MR imaging. The overall sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy for diagnosing invasive residual disease at MR imaging were 81%, 93%, and 84%, respectively. The mean MR imaging-pathologic size discrepancy was 0.5 cm ± 0.9 (standard deviation) for HER2-positive cancer and 2.3 cm ± 3.5 for HER2-negative cancer (P = .009). In the HER2-negative group, the size discrepancy was smaller for hormone receptor-negative than for hormone receptor-positive cancers (1.0 cm ± 1.1 vs 3.0 cm ± 4.0, P = .04). The size discrepancy was smaller in patients with 40% or greater Ki-67 expression (0.8 cm ± 1.1) than in patients with 10% or less Ki-67 expression (3.9 cm ± 5.1, P = .06).


The diagnostic accuracy of breast MR imaging is better in more aggressive than in less aggressive cancers. When MR imaging is used for surgical planning, caution should be taken with HER2-negative hormone receptor-positive cancers.

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