Meta-analysis of agreement between MRI and pathologic breast tumour size after neoadjuvant chemotherapy

M. L. Marinovich, P. Macaskill, L. Irwig, F. Sardanelli, G. Von Minckwitz, E. Mamounas, M. Brennan, S. Ciatto, N. Houssami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background:Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been proposed to guide breast cancer surgery by measuring residual tumour after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. This study-level meta-analysis examines MRI's agreement with pathology, compares MRI with alternative tests and investigates consistency between different measures of agreement.Methods:A systematic literature search was undertaken. Mean differences (MDs) in tumour size between MRI or comparator tests and pathology were pooled by assuming a fixed effect. Limits of agreement (LOA) were estimated from a pooled variance by assuming equal variance of the differences across studies.Results:Data were extracted from 19 studies (958 patients). The pooled MD between MRI and pathology from six studies was 0.1 cm (95% LOA: -4.2 to 4.4 cm). Similar overestimation for MRI (MD: 0.1 cm) and ultrasound (US) (MD: 0.1 cm) was observed, with comparable LOA (two studies). Overestimation was lower for MRI (MD: 0.1 cm) than mammography (MD: 0.4 cm; two studies). Overestimation by MRI (MD: 0.1 cm) was smaller than underestimation by clinical examination (MD: -0.3 cm). The LOA for mammography and clinical examination were wider than that for MRI. Percentage agreement between MRI and pathology was greater than that of comparator tests (six studies). The range of Pearson's/Spearman's correlations was wide (0.21-0.92; 16 studies). Inconsistencies between MDs, percentage agreement and correlations were common.Conclusion:Magnetic resonance imaging appears to slightly overestimate pathologic size, but measurement errors may be large enough to be clinically significant. Comparable performance by US was observed, but agreement with pathology was poorer for mammography and clinical examination. Percentage agreement can provide supplementary information to MDs and LOA, but Pearson's/Spearman's correlation does not provide evidence of agreement and should be avoided. Further comparisons of MRI and other tests using the recommended methods are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1528-1536
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 17 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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