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MRI May Provide More Non-invasive Details about Breast Cancer, Study

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Women's imaging news In a recent study presented at the 2011 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, quantitative MRI measures were used along with prognostic tumor markers to determine the prognosis of breast cancer.

Sana Parsian, M.D., a research assistant in the department of radiology at the University of Washington in Seattle, said "Breast cancers are heterogeneous, and different subtypes of breast cancer will respond differently to therapy. Every patient with breast cancer must undergo biopsy to be evaluated for the type of breast cancer they have. Based on that, adjuvant medical therapies are prescribed for them."

Dr. Parsian and hear research team suggested that some quantitative MRI measures may have as relation with histopathological markers. These measures include diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) and dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE), and their relation with the histopathological markers can aid in reviewing the cellular and vascular nature of a tumor.

In regards to DWI, it was noted that fluids diffusion through a field gradient results in decreasing the MRI signal. The cellular nature of a tumor can be determined by reviewing the degree of water mobility. DCE, on the other hand, offers more information on the vascularity of tumors. Malignant tissues need blood supply to continue their growth. The tumor’s vasculairty appears different on DCE than that of normal tissues.

During their study, researchers assessed the relation between DWI, DCE and other histopathologic markers of breast cancer. These markers included estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor, HER2, p53 and the ki67 proliferation marker. The study population included 36 patients who had 41 invasive cancers. Researchers noted that there was a definite relation between MRI measures and all markers, with the exception of ER. The latter was reported to have a relation with DCE only. Dr. Parsian said "When we looked at these measures, we realized there was a correlation with biomarkers,"

Hopes are high that with more studies MRI would help in offering significant noninvasive details about tumors."I think the final goal of radiology is to get more information while doing the least amount of intervention possible for the patient," adding "It would be great if we could improve our understanding of breast cancer biology and predict response to different therapies with imaging. Our study suggests MRI may play a valuable role in this process."

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