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Breast Cancer. 2014 Nov;21(6):724-31. doi: 10.1007/s12282-013-0449-3. Epub 2013 Feb 12.

Diffusion-weighted imaging reflects pathological therapeutic response and relapse in breast cancer.

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Department of General Surgery, Chiba University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba, 260-0856, Japan,



Conventional imaging does not always accurately depict the pathological response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC). Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) may provide additional insight into the chemotherapeutic effect. This study assessed whether the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) correlated with pathological outcome and prognosis in breast cancer patients receiving NAC.


Fifty-six patients with locally advanced breast cancer received surgery after NAC. Dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) and DWI were performed before and after NAC. The pathological response was classified into five categories from no response to complete response according to amount of residual cancer. The correlation between ADC and postoperative pathologic and prognostic outcome was assessed.


The distribution of the pathological response classification was as follows: no response, 3 cases; mild response, 22 cases; moderate response, 12 cases; marked response, 11 cases; complete response, 8 cases. ADC after NAC correlated with pathological response, but ADC before NAC did not. The change in ADC after chemotherapy had better correlation coefficient (r = 0.67) than change in size (r = 0.58) and ADC after NAC (r = 0.64). Although the group with larger change of tumor size showed only marginal significance compared with the smaller change group (p = 0.089), the group with higher change of ADC showed significantly better prognosis than the lower one (p = 0.038).


Change in ADC after chemotherapy better correlated with pathological outcome and prognosis than change in tumor size. DWI has potential in evaluating the pathological outcome of NAC in breast cancer patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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