J Magn Reson Imaging. 2023 Sep 14. doi: 10.1002/jmri.29012. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Lymph node characteristics markedly affect nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) prognosis. Matted node (MN), an important characteristic for lymph node, lacks explored MRI-based prognostic implications.
PURPOSE: Investigate MRI-determined MNs’ prognostic value in NPC, including 5-year overall survival (OS), distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS), local recurrence-free survival (LRFS), progression-free survival (PFS), and its role in induction chemotherapy (IC).
STUDY TYPE: Retrospective cohort survival study.
POPULATION: Seven hundred ninety-two patients with non-metastatic NPC (female: 27.3%, >45-year old: 50.1%) confirmed by biopsy.
FIELD STRENGTH/SEQUENCE: 5-T/3.0-T, T1-, T2- and post-contrast T1-weighted fast spin echo sequences acquired.
ASSESSMENT: MNs were defined as ≥3 nodes abutting with intervening fat plane replaced by extracapsular nodal spread (ENS). Patients were observed every 3 months for 2 years and every 6 months for 5 years using MRI. Follow-up extended from treatment initiation to death or final follow-up. MNs were evaluated by three radiologists with inter-reader reliability calculated. A 1:1 matched-pair method compared survival differences between MN-positive patients with or without IC. Primary endpoints (OS, DMFS, LRFS, PFS) were calculated from therapy initiation to respective event.
STATISTICAL TESTS: Kappa values assessed inter-reader reliability. Correlation between MN, ENS, and LNN was studied through Spearman’s correlation coefficient. Clinical characteristics were calculated via Fisher’s exact, Chi-squared, and Student’s t-test. Kaplan-Meier curves and log-rank tests analyzed all time-to-event data. Confounding factors were included in Multivariable Cox proportional hazard models to identify independent prognostic factors. P-values <0.05 were considered statistically significant.
RESULTS: MNs incidence was 24.6%. MNs independently associated with decreased 5-year OS, DMFS, and PFS; not LRFS (P = 0.252). MN-positive patients gained significant survival benefit from IC in 5-year OS (88.4% vs. 66.0%) and PFS (76.4% vs. 53.5%), but not DMFS (83.1% vs. 69.9%, P = 0.145) or LRFS (89.9% vs. 77.8%, P = 0.140).
DATA CONCLUSION: MNs may independently stratify NPC risk and offer survival benefit from IC.
EVIDENCE LEVEL: 3 TECHNICAL EFFICACY: Stage 2.