Monitoring response to primary chemotherapy in breast cancer using dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2004 Jan;83(1):67-76. doi: 10.1023/B:BREA.0000010700.11092.f4.


Purpose: Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) allows analysis of both tumor volume and contrast enhancement pattern using a single tool. We sought to investigate whether DCE-MRI could be used to predict histological response in patients undergoing primary chemotherapy (PCT) for breast cancer.

Patients and methods: Thirty patients with breast cancer, clinical diameter > 3 cm or stage III A/B, received anthracycline and taxane based PCT. DCE-MRI was performed at the baseline, after two cycles and after four cycles of PCT, before surgery. Histological response was assessed using a five-point scheme. Grade 4 (small cluster of dispersed residual cancer cells) and grade 5 (no residual viable cancer cell) were defined as a major histopathological response (MHR).

Results: Univariate analysis showed that a > 65% reduction in the tumor volume and a reduction in the early enhancement ratio (ECU) after two cycles of PCT were associated with a MHR. Multivariate analysis revealed that tumor volume reduction after two cycles of PCT was independently associated with a MHR (odds ratio [OR] 39.968, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.438-464.962, p < 0.01). ECU reduction was still associated with a MHR (OR 2.50, 95% CI 0.263-23.775), but it did not retain statistical significance (p = 0.42). Combining tumor volume and ECU reduction after two cycles of PCT yielded a 93% diagnostic accuracy in identifying tumors achieving a pathological complete response (pCR) (histopathological grade 5).

Conclusions: DCE-MRI allows prediction of the effect of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer. Although in our study tumor volume reduction after two cycles had the strongest predictive value, DCE-MRI has the potential to provide functional parameters that could be integrated to optimize neoadjuvant chemotherapy strategies.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthracyclines / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Bridged-Ring Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Taxoids / administration & dosage


  • Anthracyclines
  • Bridged-Ring Compounds
  • Contrast Media
  • Taxoids
  • taxane