Heterogeneity in Intratumoral Regions with Rapid Gadolinium Washout Correlates with Estrogen Receptor Status and Nodal Metastasis

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axillary lymph node metastases, estrogen receptor, textural kinetics, breast cancer, habitats, magnetic resonance imaging

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Purpose: To evaluate heterogeneity within tumor subregions or “habitats” via textural kinetic analysis on breast dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) for the classification of two clinical prognostic features; 1) estrogen receptor (ER)-positive from ER-negative tumors, and 2) tumors with four or more viable lymph node metastases after neoadjuvant chemotherapy from tumors without nodal metastases.

Materials and Methods: Two separate volumetric DCE-MRI datasets were obtained at 1.5T, comprised of bilateral axial dynamic 3D T1-weighted fat suppressed gradient recalled echo-pulse sequences obtained before and after gadolinium-based contrast administration. Representative image slices of breast tumors from 38 and 34 patients were used for ER status and lymph node classification, respectively. Four tumor habitats were defined based on their kinetic contrast enhancement characteristics. The heterogeneity within each habitat was quantified using textural kinetic features, which were evaluated using two feature selectors and three classifiers.

Results: Textural kinetic features from the habitat with rapid delayed washout yielded classification accuracies of 84.44% (area under the curve [AUC] 0.83) for ER and 88.89% (AUC 0.88) for lymph node status. The texture feature, information measure of correlation, most often chosen in cross-validations, measures heterogeneity and provides accuracy approximately the same as with the best feature set.

Conclusion: Heterogeneity within habitats with rapid washout is highly predictive of molecular tumor characteristics and clinical behavior. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2015;42:1421–1430.

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Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, v. 42, issue 5, p. 1421-1430