Breast MRI during Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy: Lack of Background Parenchymal Enhancement Suppression and Inferior Treatment Response

Radiology. 2021 Nov;301(2):295-308. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2021203645. Epub 2021 Aug 24.


Background Suppression of background parenchymal enhancement (BPE) is commonly observed after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) at contrast-enhanced breast MRI. It was hypothesized that nonsuppressed BPE may be associated with inferior response to NAC. Purpose To investigate the relationship between lack of BPE suppression and pathologic response. Materials and Methods A retrospective review was performed for women with menopausal status data who were treated for breast cancer by one of 10 drug arms (standard NAC with or without experimental agents) between May 2010 and November 2016 in the Investigation of Serial Studies to Predict Your Therapeutic Response with Imaging and Molecular Analysis 2, or I-SPY 2 TRIAL (NCT01042379). Patients underwent MRI at four points: before treatment (T0), early treatment (T1), interregimen (T2), and before surgery (T3). BPE was quantitatively measured by using automated fibroglandular tissue segmentation. To test the hypothesis effectively, a subset of examinations with BPE with high-quality segmentation was selected. BPE change from T0 was defined as suppressed or nonsuppressed for each point. The Fisher exact test and the Z tests of proportions with Yates continuity correction were used to examine the relationship between BPE suppression and pathologic complete response (pCR) in hormone receptor (HR)-positive and HR-negative cohorts. Results A total of 3528 MRI scans from 882 patients (mean age, 48 years ± 10 [standard deviation]) were reviewed and the subset of patients with high-quality BPE segmentation was determined (T1, 433 patients; T2, 396 patients; T3, 380 patients). In the HR-positive cohort, an association between lack of BPE suppression and lower pCR rate was detected at T2 (nonsuppressed vs suppressed, 11.8% [six of 51] vs 28.9% [50 of 173]; difference, 17.1% [95% CI: 4.7, 29.5]; P = .02) and T3 (nonsuppressed vs suppressed, 5.3% [two of 38] vs 27.4% [48 of 175]; difference, 22.2% [95% CI: 10.9, 33.5]; P = .003). In the HR-negative cohort, patients with nonsuppressed BPE had lower estimated pCR rate at all points, but the P values for the association were all greater than .05. Conclusions In hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, lack of background parenchymal enhancement suppression may indicate inferior treatment response. © RSNA, 2021 Online supplemental material is available for this article. See also the editorial by Philpotts in this issue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / methods*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Contrast Media*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Contrast Media