World J Clinical Cases

How to use magnetic resonance imaging following neoadjuvant chemotherapy in locally advanced breast cancer

Price ER, Wong J, Mukhtar R, Hylton N, Esserman LJ

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is highly sensitive in identifying residual breast cancer following neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC), and consequently is a commonly used imaging modality in locally advanced breast cancer patients. In these patients, tumor response is an important prognostic indicator. However, discrepancies between MRI findings and surgical pathology are well documented. Overestimation of residual disease by MRI may result in greater surgery than is actually required while underestimation may result in insufficient surgery. Thus, it is important to understand when MRI findings are reliable and when they are less accurate. MRI most accurately predicts pathology in triple negative, Her2 positive and hormone receptor negative tumors, especially if they are of a solid imaging phenotype. In these cases, post-NAC MRI is highly reliable for surgical planning. Hormone receptor positive cancers and those demonstrating non mass enhancement show lower concordance with surgical pathology, making surgical guidance more nebulous in these cases. Radiologists and surgeons must assess MRI response to NAC in the context of tumor subtype. Indiscriminate interpretations will prevent MRI from achieving its maximum potential in the pre-operative setting.

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