Journal Article
. 2016 Jun; 6:126.
doi: 10.3389/fonc.2016.00126.

Potential of Diffusion-Weighted Imaging in the Characterization of Malignant, Benign, and Healthy Breast Tissues and Molecular Subtypes of Breast Cancer

Uma Sharma 1 Rani G Sah 1 Khushbu Agarwal 1 Rajinder Parshad 2 Vurthaluru Seenu 2 Sandeep R Mathur 3 Smriti Hari 4 Naranamangalam R Jagannathan 1 
  • PMID: 27242965
  •     65 References
  •     9 citations


The role of apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) in the diagnosis of breast cancer and its association with molecular biomarkers was investigated in 259 patients with breast cancer, 67 with benign pathology, and 54 healthy volunteers using diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) at 1.5 T. In 59 breast cancer patients, dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCEMRI) was also acquired. Mean ADC of malignant lesions was significantly lower (1.02 ± 0.17 × 10(-3) mm(2)/s) compared to benign (1.57 ± 0.26 × 10(-3) mm(2)/s) and healthy (1.78 ± 0.13 × 10(-3) mm(2)/s) breast tissues. A cutoff ADC value of 1.23 × 10(-3) mm(2)/s (sensitivity 92.5%; specificity 91.1%; area under the curve 0.96) to differentiate malignant from benign diseases was arrived by receiver operating curve analysis. In 10/59 breast cancer patients, indeterminate DCE curve was seen, while their ADC value was indicative of malignancy, implying the potential of the addition of DWI in increasing the specificity of DCEMRI data. Further, the association of ADC with tumor volume, stage, hormonal receptors [estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor (HER2)], and menopausal status was investigated. A significant difference was seen in tumor volume between breast cancer patients of stages IIA and IIIA, IIB and IIIA, and IIB and III (B + C), respectively (P < 0.05). Patients with early breast cancer (n = 52) had significantly lower ADC and tumor volume than those with locally advanced breast cancer (n = 207). No association was found in ADC and tumor volume with the menopausal status. Breast cancers with ER-, PR-, and triple-negative (TN) status showed a significantly larger tumor volume compared to ER+, PR+, and non-triple-negative (nTN) cancers, respectively. Also, TN tumors showed a significantly higher ADC compared to ER+, PR+, and nTN cancers. Patients with ER- and TN cancers were younger than those with ER+ and nTN cancers. The present study demonstrated that ADC may increase the diagnostic specificity of DCEMRI and be useful for treatment management in clinical setting. Additionally, it provides an insight into characterization of molecular types of breast cancer and may serve as an indicator of metabolic reprograming underlying tumor proliferation.

Keywords: apparent diffusion coefficient; benign lesions; breast cancer; diffusion-weighted MRI; estrogen receptor; human epidermal growth factor receptor 2; molecular biomarkers; progesterone receptor.

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