Monitoring tumor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy using MRI and 18F-FDG PET/CT in breast cancer subtypes

Schmitz, Alexander M Th, Teixeira, Suzana C, Pengel, Kenneth E, Loo, Claudette E, Vogel, Wouter V, Wesseling, Jelle, Rutgers, Emiel J Th, Valdés Olmos, Renato A, Sonke, Gabe S, Rodenhuis, Sjoerd, Vrancken Peeters, Marie Jeanne T F D, Gilhuijs, Kenneth G A


PLoS ONE [E] 12 (5),


PURPOSE: To explore guidelines on the use of MRI and PET/CT monitoring primary tumor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC), taking breast cancer subtype into account.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this prospective cohort study, 188 women were included with stages II and III breast cancer. MRI and 18F-FDG-PET/CT were acquired before and during NAC. Baseline pathology was assessed from tumor biopsy. Tumors were stratified into HER2-positive, ER-positive/HER2-negative (ER-positive), and ER-negative/PR-negative/HER2-negative (triple-negative) subtypes, and treated according to subtype. Primary endpoint was pathological complete response (pCRmic) defined as no or only small numbers of scattered invasive tumor cells. We evaluated imaging scenarios using MRI only, PET/CT only, and combinations.

RESULTS: pCRmic was found in 35/46 (76.1%) of HER2-positive, 11/87 (12.6%) of ER-positive, and 31/55 (56.4%) of triple-negative tumors. For HER2-positive tumors, MRI yielded the strongest predictor (AUC: 0.735; sensitivity 36.2%), outperforming PET/CT (AUC: 0.543; p = 0.04), and with comparable results to combined imaging (AUC: 0.708; p = 0.213). In ER-positive tumors, the combination of MRI and PET/CT was slightly superior (AUC: 0.818; sensitivity 55.8%) over MRI alone (AUC: 0.742; p = 0.117) and PET/CT alone (AUC: 0.791). However, even though relatively large numbers of ER-positive tumor patients were included, no significant differences were yet found. For triple-negative tumors, MRI (AUC: 0.855; sensitivity 45.4%), PET/CT (AUC: 0.844; p = 0.220) and combined imaging (AUC: 0.868; p = 0.213) yielded comparable results.

CONCLUSIONS: For HER2-positive tumors, MRI shows significant advantage over PET/CT. For triple-negative tumors, comparable results were seen for MRI, PET/CT and combined imaging. For ER-positive tumors, combining MRI with PET/CT may result in optimal response monitoring, although not yet significantly.