Breast MRI radiomics for the pretreatment prediction of response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in node-positive breast cancer patients

J Med Imaging (Bellingham). 2019 Jul;6(3):034502. doi: 10.1117/1.JMI.6.3.034502. Epub 2019 Sep 30.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate breast MRI radiomics in predicting, prior to any treatment, the response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in patients with invasive lymph node (LN)-positive breast cancer for two tasks: (1) prediction of pathologic complete response and (2) prediction of post-NAC LN status. Our study included 158 patients, with 19 showing post-NAC complete pathologic response (pathologic TNM stage T0,N0,MX) and 139 showing incomplete response. Forty-two patients were post-NAC LN-negative, and 116 were post-NAC LN-positive. We further analyzed prediction of response by hormone receptor subtype of the primary cancer (77 hormone receptor-positive, 39 HER2-enriched, 38 triple negative, and 4 cancers with unknown receptor status). Only pre-NAC MRIs underwent computer analysis, initialized by an expert breast radiologist indicating index cancers and metastatic axillary sentinel LNs on DCE-MRI images. Forty-nine computer-extracted radiomics features were obtained, both for the primary cancers and for the metastatic sentinel LNs. Since the dataset contained MRIs acquired at 1.5 T and at 3.0 T, we eliminated features affected by magnet strength using the Mann-Whitney U-test with the null-hypothesis that 1.5 T and 3.0 T samples were selected from populations having the same distribution. Bootstrapping and ROC analysis were used to assess performance of individual features in the two classification tasks. Eighteen features appeared unaffected by magnet strength. Pre-NAC tumor features generally appeared uninformative in predicting response to therapy. In contrast, some pre-NAC LN features were able to predict response: two pre-NAC LN features were able to predict pathologic complete response (area under the ROC curve (AUC) up to 0.82 [0.70; 0.88]), and another two were able to predict post-NAC LN-status (AUC up to 0.72 [0.62; 0.77]), respectively. In the analysis by a hormone receptor subtype, several potentially useful features were identified for predicting response to therapy in the hormone receptor-positive and HER2-enriched cancers.

Keywords: CAD; MRI; breast cancer; precision medicine; radiomics.