The study, performed at the University of California-San Francisco, of 58 breast cancer patients found that the best way to predict a patient's recurrence-free survival is to review the initial MR examination (before the patient has chemotherapy) and the final MR examination (after chemotherapy has been completed).

"Initial tumour volume was a strong predictor of recurrence free survival. Of the women who had tumour volumes of 33 cm3 or less on the initial MR exam, 93% remained disease free after two years, compared with 70% of the women with larger tumours. This speaks strongly for the value of early detection,” said Savannah C. Partridge, PhD, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Washington, Seattle.

"The change in tumour volume with treatment was also a valuable predictor,” said Dr. Partridge. "We found that the group of patients who had a 50% or greater reduction in MRI tumour volume when comparing the first MR examination to the last had a better recurrence-free survival rate (87% remained disease-free after two years) than those with less tumour shrinkage during chemotherapy treatment (64% were disease-free after two years), irrespective of their initial tumour volumes,” she added.

Most often, MRI is used to measure the tumour's diameter, said Dr. Partridge. "This study shows that while measuring tumour diameter is useful for staging, volume is preferable for monitoring treatment because 3D volume measurements can more accurately capture the extent of irregularly shaped tumours, multifocality and diffuse shrinkage of lesions during treatment,” she said. "It is important that an accurate and validated tool be used for calculation of 3D tumour volume from MRI images,” she noted.

"We are encouraged by these results and anticipate that monitoring tumour response by MRI will help us to better tailor treatment strategies for individual patients” Partridge said.

MEDICA.de; Source: American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS)