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Diffusion-Weighted MRI for Predicting Pathologic Complete Response in Neoadjuvant Immunotherapy


This study tested the hypothesis that a change in the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) measured in diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) is an independent imaging marker, and ADC performs better than functional tumor volume (FTV) for assessing treatment response in patients with locally advanced breast cancer receiving neoadjuvant immunotherapy. A total of 249 patients were randomized to standard neoadjuvant chemotherapy with pembrolizumab (pembro) or without pembrolizumab (control). DCE-MRI and DWI, performed prior to and 3 weeks after the start of treatment, were analyzed. Percent changes of tumor ADC metrics (mean, 5th to 95th percentiles of ADC histogram) and FTV were evaluated for the prediction of pathologic complete response (pCR) using a logistic regression model. The area under the ROC curve (AUC) estimated for the percent change in mean ADC was higher in the pembro cohort (0.73, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.52 to 0.93) than in the control cohort (0.63, 95% CI: 0.43 to 0.83). In the control cohort, the percent change of the 95th percentile ADC achieved the highest AUC, 0.69 (95% CI: 0.52 to 0.85). In the pembro cohort, the percent change of the 25th percentile ADC achieved the highest AUC, 0.75 (95% CI: 0.55 to 0.95). AUCs estimated for percent change of FTV were 0.61 (95% CI: 0.39 to 0.83) and 0.66 (95% CI: 0.47 to 0.85) for the pembro and control cohorts, respectively. Tumor ADC may perform better than FTV to predict pCR at an early treatment time-point during neoadjuvant immunotherapy.

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