Skip to main content

Imaging the breast following neoadjuvant chemotherapy: does improvement of imaging findings in the axilla predict pathological response in the breast?

Introduction

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is an effective treatment in patients with locally advanced breast cancer. It is being used more frequently and imaging is used to monitor disease response. Imaging response in the axilla was correlated with the final breast histology.

Methods

Patients who had undergone primary chemotherapy, pre and post chemotherapy MRI and surgery from 2009 to present were included. The MRI and histology reports were reviewed.

Results

Of 20 patients, 18 had abnormal nodes on the first MRI; of these nine had a complete imaging response and five had axillary disease on final pathology. Of the nine that had abnormal nodes on their final MRI, all but one had metastatic disease on final pathology. Of the nine patients with a response on axillary imaging, two had a complete pathological response in the breast. The other had an average tumour size of 53 mm (range 16 to 120 mm). Of the patients who did not respond radiologically in the axilla, three had a complete pathological response in the breast and the remainder had an average tumour size of 44 mm (range 1.7 to 90 mm).

Conclusion

Although MRI is used to predict response to chemotherapy it may underestimate and overestimate disease burden. A radiological response in the axilla does not predict a response in the breast and the two areas need to be assessed independently of each other. Surgical planning must take into consideration the pre-chemotherapy disease status in each area.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to A Williams.

Rights and permissions

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Williams, A., Litton, K., Borley, A. et al. Imaging the breast following neoadjuvant chemotherapy: does improvement of imaging findings in the axilla predict pathological response in the breast?. Breast Cancer Res 14, P30 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1186/bcr3285

Download citation

Keywords

  • Breast Cancer
  • Advanced Breast Cancer
  • Pathological Response
  • Complete Pathological Response
  • Final Pathology