Role of MRI to Assess Response to Neoadjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2020 Dec;52(6). doi: 10.1002/jmri.27145. Epub 2020 Mar 29.


The goals of imaging after neoadjuvant therapy for breast cancer are to monitor the response to therapy and facilitate surgical planning. MRI has been found to be more accurate than mammography, ultrasound, or clinical exam in evaluating treatment response. However, MRI may both overestimate and underestimate residual disease. The accuracy of MRI is dependent on tumor morphology, histology, shrinkage pattern, and molecular subtype. Emerging MRI techniques that combine functional information such as diffusion, metabolism, and hypoxia may improve MR accuracy. In addition, machine-learning techniques including radiomics and radiogenomics are being studied with the goal of predicting response on pretreatment imaging. This article comprehensively reviews response assessment on breast MRI and highlights areas of ongoing research. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: 3 TECHNICAL EFFICACY STAGE: 3 J. MAGN. RESON. IMAGING 2020;52:1587-1606.

Keywords: MRI; breast cancer; neoadjuvant chemotherapy; precision medicine; preoperative chemotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mammography
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy*
  • Neoplasm, Residual