BMC Cancer. 2023 Jan 5;23(1):15. doi: 10.1186/s12885-022-10496-5.
BACKGROUND: The objective of this paper is to explore the value of a delta-radiomic model of the axillary lymph node (ALN) using dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) MRI for early prediction of the axillary pathological complete response (pCR) of breast cancer patients after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC).
METHODS: A total of 120 patients with ALN-positive breast cancer who underwent breast MRI before and after the first cycle of NAC between October 2018 and May 2021 were prospectively included in this study. Patients were divided into a training (n = 84) and validation (n = 36) cohort based on the temporal order of their treatments. Radiomic features were extracted from the largest slice of targeted ALN on DCE-MRI at pretreatment and after one cycle of NAC, and their changes (delta-) were calculated and recorded. Logistic regression was then applied to build radiomic models using the pretreatment (pre-), first-cycle(1st-), and changes (delta-) radiomic features separately. A clinical model was also built and combined with the radiomic models. The models were evaluated by discrimination, calibration, and clinical application and compared using DeLong test.
RESULTS: Among the three radiomic models, the ALN delta-radiomic model performed the best with AUCs of 0.851 (95% CI: 0.770-0.932) and 0.822 (95% CI: 0.685-0.958) in the training and validation cohorts, respectively. The clinical model yielded moderate AUCs of 0.742 (95% CI: 0.637-0.846) and 0.723 (95% CI: 0.550-0.896), respectively. After combining clinical features to the delta-radiomics model, the efficacy of the combined model (AUC = 0.932) in the training cohort was significantly higher than that of both the delta-radiomic model (Delong p = 0.017) and the clinical model (Delong p < 0.001) individually. Additionally, in the validation cohort, the combined model had the highest AUC (0.859) of any of the models we tested although this was not statistically different from any other individual model’s validation AUC. Calibration and decision curves showed a good agreement and a high clinical benefit for the combined model.
CONCLUSION: This preliminary study indicates that ALN-based delta-radiomic model combined with clinical features is a promising strategy for the early prediction of downstaging ALN status after NAC. Future axillary MRI applications need to be further explored.