Novel MRI technique could reduce breast biopsies

October 2, 2012

Water diffusion measurements with MRI could decrease false-positive breast cancer results and reduce preventable biopsies, according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology. Researchers said the technique also could improve patient management by differentiating high-risk lesions requiring additional workup from other non-malignant subtypes.

Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) has emerged in recent years as a useful tool in detection and staging. One of its primary limitations is a substantial number of false-positive findings that require biopsies.

"Many benign lesions demonstrate enhancement on DCE-MRI," said Savannah C. Partridge, Ph.D., research associate professor at the University of Washington, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. "We need another means for differentiating from malignancies."

One possible solution is diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI), an that calculates the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC)—a measure of how water moves through tissue.

"DWI has been used mostly in neurological applications, but it's been studied more recently in breast imaging," Dr. Partridge said. "It only adds a couple of minutes to the MRI exam and does not require additional contrast or any extra hardware."

Research has shown that DWI is a promising tool for distinguishing between benign and malignant breast lesions. Normal has a high ADC because water moves through it relatively freely, while most cancers have a lower ADC because their cells are more tightly packed and restrict water motion. However, significant overlap exists between the ADC values of non- and breast malignancies, and little is known about the ADC values of specific subtypes of non-malignant lesions.

For the new study, Dr. Partridge and colleagues evaluated the DWI characteristics of non-malignant lesions in 165 women. Based on ADC values above a previously determined diagnostic threshold, DWI successfully characterized 46 percent of non- identified as false-positive findings on DCE-MRI as benign.

"We were excited to see the number of false positives that could be reduced through this approach," Dr. Partridge said. "DWI gives us extra microstructural information to distinguish among lesions. We can use ADC values to draw a cutoff above which we might not need to do a biopsy."

The research team is planning a multicenter trial to validate the findings and determine how to best to incorporate ADC measures into clinical breast MRI interpretations.

"We are very motivated to translate this promising technology to a clinically useful tool," Dr. Partridge said.

Explore further: MRI may be noninvasive method to measure breast cancer prognosis

Related Stories

MRI may be noninvasive method to measure breast cancer prognosis

December 8, 2011
Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging measures were associated with prognostic tumor markers, demonstrating the potential of magnetic resonance imaging for prediction of disease prognosis and stratification of patients ...

Recommended for you

Stem cell therapy attacks cancer by targeting unique tissue stiffness

July 26, 2017
A stem cell-based method created by University of California, Irvine scientists can selectively target and kill cancerous tissue while preventing some of the toxic side effects of chemotherapy by treating the disease in a ...

Understanding cell segregation mechanisms that help prevent cancer spread

July 26, 2017
Scientists have uncovered how cells are kept in the right place as the body develops, which may shed light on what causes invasive cancer cells to migrate.

Study uncovers potential 'silver bullet' for preventing and treating colon cancer

July 26, 2017
In preclinical experiments, researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center have uncovered a new way in which colon cancer develops, as well as a potential "silver bullet" for preventing and treating it. The findings may extend to ...

Compound shows promise in treating melanoma

July 26, 2017
While past attempts to treat melanoma failed to meet expectations, an international team of researchers are hopeful that a compound they tested on both mice and on human cells in a petri dish takes a positive step toward ...

Study may explain failure of retinoic acid trials against breast cancer

July 25, 2017
Estrogen-positive breast cancers are often treated with anti-estrogen therapies. But about half of these cancers contain a subpopulation of cells marked by the protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5), which resists treatment—and breast ...

Breaking the genetic resistance of lung cancer and melanoma

July 25, 2017
Researchers from Monash University and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC, New York) have discovered why some cancers – particularly lung cancer and melanoma – are able to quickly develop deadly resistance ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.