Objective: To perform a meta-analysis exploring the correlation between the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and tumor cellularity in patients.
Materials and methods: We searched medical and scientific literature databases for studies discussing the correlation between the ADC and tumor cellularity in patients. Only studies that were published in English or Chinese prior to November 2012 were considered for inclusion. Summary correlation coefficient (r) values were extracted from each study, and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated. Sensitivity and subgroup analyses were performed to investigate potential heterogeneity.
Results: Of 189 studies, 28 were included in the meta-analysis, comprising 729 patients. The pooled r for all studies was -0.57 (95% CI: -0.62, -0.52), indicating notable heterogeneity (P<0.001). After the sensitivity analysis, two studies were excluded, and the pooled r was -0.61 (95% CI: -0.66, -0.56) and was not significantly heterogeneous (P = 0.127). Regarding tumor type subgroup analysis, there were sufficient data to support a strong negative correlation between the ADC and cellularity for brain tumors. There was no notable evidence of publication bias.
Conclusions: There is a strong negative correlation between the ADC and tumor cellularity in patients, particularly in the brain. However, larger, prospective studies are warranted to validate these findings in other cancer types.