Meta-analysis of magnetic resonance imaging in detecting residual breast cancer after neoadjuvant therapy

Michael L. Marinovich, Nehmat Houssami, Petra MacAskill, Francesco Sardanelli, Les Irwig, Eleftherios P. Mamounas, Gunter Von Minckwitz, Meagan E. Brennan, Stefano Ciatto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: It has been proposed that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) be used to guide breast cancer surgery by differentiating residual tumor from pathologic complete response (pCR) after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. This meta-analysis examines MRI accuracy in detecting residual tumor, investigates variables potentially affecting MRI performance, and compares MRI with other tests. Methods: A systematic literature search was undertaken. Hierarchical summary receiver operating characteristic (HSROC) models were used to estimate (relative) diagnostic odds ratios ([R]DORs). Summary sensitivity (correct identification of residual tumor), specificity (correct identification of pCR), and areas under the SROC curves (AUCs) were derived. All statistical tests were two-sided. Results: Forty-four studies (2050 patients) were included. The overall AUC of MRI was 0.88. Accuracy was lower for "standard" pCR definitions (referent category) than "less clearly described" (RDOR = 2.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.11 to 5.23) or "near-pCR" definitions (RDOR = 2.60, 95% CI = 0.73 to 9.24; P =. 03.) Corresponding AUCs were 0.83, 0.90, and 0.91. Specificity was higher when negative MRI was defined as contrast enhancement less than or equal to normal tissue (0.83, 95% CI = 0.64 to 0.93) vs no enhancement (0.54, 95% CI = 0.39 to 0.69; P =. 02), with comparable sensitivity (0.83, 95% CI = 0.69 to 0.91; vs 0.87, 95% CI = 0.80 to 0.92; P =. 45). MRI had higher accuracy than mammography (P =. 02); there was only weak evidence that MRI had higher accuracy than clinical examination (P =. 10). No difference in MRI and ultrasound accuracy was found (P =. 15). Conclusions: MRI accurately detects residual tumor after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Accuracy was lower when pCR was more rigorously defined, and specificity was lower when test negativity thresholds were more stringent; these definitions require standardization. MRI is more accurate than mammography; however, studies comparing MRI and ultrasound are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-333
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 6 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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