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The online version of this article (https://doi.org/10.1186/s13058-018-0950-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The main purpose was to investigate the correlation between magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based response patterns halfway through neoadjuvant chemotherapy and immunotherapy (NAC) and pathological tumor response in patients with breast cancer. Secondary purposes were to compare the predictive value of MRI-based response patterns measured halfway through NAC and after NAC and to measure interobserver variability.
All consecutive patients treated with NAC for primary invasive breast cancer from 2012 to 2015 and who underwent breast MRI before, halfway through (and after) NAC were included. All breast tumors were reassessed on MRI by two experienced breast radiologists and classified into six patterns: type 0 (complete radiologic response); type 1 (concentric shrinkage); type 2 (crumbling); type 3 (diffuse enhancement); type 4 (stable disease); type 5 (progressive disease). Percentages of tumors showing pathological complete response (pCR), > 50% tumor reduction and > 50% tumor diameter reduction per MRI-based response pattern were calculated. Correlation between MRI-based response patterns and pathological tumor reduction was studied with Pearson’s correlation coefficient, and interobserver agreement was tested with Cohen’s Kappa.
Patients (n = 76; mean age 53, range 29–72 years) with 80 tumors (4 bilateral) were included. There was significant correlation between these MRI-based response patterns halfway through NAC and tumor reduction on pathology assessment (reader 1 r = 0.33; p = 0.003 and reader 2 r = 0.45; p < 0.001). Type-0, type-1 or type-2 patterns halfway through NAC showed highest tumor reduction rates on pathology assessment, with > 50% tumor reduction in 90%, 78% and 65% of cases, respectively. In 83% of tumors with type 0 halfway through NAC, pathology assessment showed pCR. There was no significant correlation between MRI-based response patterns after NAC and tumor reduction rates on pathology assessment (reader 1 r = − 0.17; p = 0.145 and reader 2 r = − 0.17; p = 0.146). In 41% of tumors with type 0 after NAC, pathology assessment showed pCR.
MRI-based response patterns halfway through NAC can predict pathologic response more accurately than MRI-based response patterns after NAC. Complete radiological response halfway NAC is associated with 83% pCR, while complete radiological response after NAC seems to be correct in only 41% of cases.