Breast MRI background parenchymal enhancement as an imaging bridge to molecular cancer sub-type

Giuseppe Dilorenzo, Michele Telegrafo, Daniele La Forgia, Amato Antonio Stabile Ianora, Marco Moschetta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To evaluate the distribution of MRI breast parenchymal enhancement (BPE) among different breast cancer subtypes searching for any significant difference in terms of immunohistochemical and receptorial patterns (Estrogen Receptor -ER, Progesterone Receptor - PR, Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 - HER2). Methods: 82 consecutive patients affected by breast cancer underwent breast DCE-MRI. Two radiologists retrospectively evaluated all subtracted MR enhanced images for classifying BPE. ER, PR and HER2 expression was assessed by immunohistochemical analysis. ER and PR status was evaluated using Allred score (positive values: score ≥3). The intensity of the cerbB-2 staining was scored as 0, 1+, 2+, or 3+ (positive values: ≥ 3+; negative:0 and 1+; 2+ value assessed with silver in-situ hybridization). Patients were classified into five categories based on cancer subtypes: Luminal A, Luminal B HER2 negative, Luminal B HER2 positive, HER2 positive non luminal, triple negative. The χ2 test was used for evaluating the significance of BPE type distribution into the five groups of tumor subtypes and the distribution of the five breast cancer subtypes among every single BPE type. The correlation of BPE with factors such as age, menopausal status and lesion diameter was investigated using multivariate regression analysis and logistic regression. Cohen's kappa statistics was used in order to assess inter-observer agreement for classifying BPE. Results: 6/82 cases were Luminal A-like (7.3%), 42/82 Luminal B-like (HER2-) (51.2%), 12/82 Luminal B-like (HER2+) (14.6%), 4/82 Non Luminal (HER+) (4.9%), 18/82 Triple Negative (ductal) (22%). 16/82 cases showed minimal BPE, 28/82 mild BPE, 22/82 moderate BPE, 16/82 marked BPE. Mild BPE pattern was significantly more prevalent (p = 0.0001) than other BPE types only in the luminal B (HER-) tumors. Moderate and marked BPE prevailed over minimal and mild, in triple negatives. Among all patients with mild BPE, luminal B (HER2-) tumors were significantly higher (p = 0.0001). Among all patients with marked BPE, triple negative subtypes were significantly higher (p = 0.0074). No significant confounder to BPE qualitative evaluation was found (p = 0.39). The inter-rater agreement in evaluating BPE patterns on MRI was almost perfect with Cohen's k = 0.83. Conclusions: BPE could play a crucial role as an imaging bridge to molecular breast cancer subtype allowing an additional risk stratification in the field of breast MRI and targeted screening tests. Luminal B (HER2-) tumors could prevail in case of mild BPE on CE-MRI examinations and TN tumors in patients with marked BPE. Further studies on larger series are needed to confirm this hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-152
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Radiology
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • BPE
  • Breast
  • Cancer
  • Molecular imaging
  • MRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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