Aim: This study was conducted in order to investigate the role of gray-scale ultrasound (US) and optoacoustic imaging combined with gray-scale ultrasound (OA/US) to better differentiate between breast cancer molecular subtypes.
Materials and methods: All 67 malignant masses included in the Maestro trial were retrospectively reviewed to compare US and OA/US feature scores and histopathological findings. Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to analyze the relationship between US and OA/US features and molecular subtypes of breast cancer. If a significant relationship was found, additional Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney tests were used to identify the differences between molecular subtype groups.
Results: US sound transmission helped to differentiate between LUMA and LUMB, LUMB and TNBC, and LUMB and all other molecular subtypes combined (p values < 0.05). Regarding OA/US features, the sum of internal features helped to differentiate between TNBC and HER2-enriched subtypes (p = 0.049). Internal vessels (p = 0.025), sum of all internal features (p = 0.019), and sum of internal and external features (p = 0.028) helped to differentiate between LUMA and LUMB. All internal features, the sum of all internal features, the sum of all internal and external features, and the ratio of internal and external features helped to differentiate between LUMA and TNBC. The same features also helped to differentiate between LUMA and TNBC from other molecular subtypes (p values < 0.05).
Conclusions: The use of OA/US might help radiologists to better differentiate between breast cancer molecular subtypes. Further studies need to be carried out in order to validate these results.
Key points: • The combination of functional and morphologic information provided by optoacoustic imaging (OA) combined with gray-scale US helped to differentiate between breast cancer molecular subtypes.
Keywords: Breast neoplasms; Molecular imaging; Optoacoustic technologies.