Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is the state-of-the-art treatment in advanced breast cancer. A correct visualization of the post-therapeutic tumor size is of high prognostic relevance. X-ray phase-contrast computed tomography (PC-CT) has been shown to provide improved soft-tissue contrast at a resolution formerly restricted to histopathology, at low doses. This study aimed at assessing ex-vivo the potential use of PC-CT for visualizing the effects of neoadjuvant chemotherapy on breast carcinoma.
Materials and Methods
The analysis was performed on two ex-vivo formalin-fixed mastectomy samples containing an invasive carcinoma removed from two patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Images were matched with corresponding histological slices. The visibility of typical post-therapeutic tissue changes was assessed and compared to results obtained with conventional clinical imaging modalities.
PC-CT depicted the different tissue types with an excellent correlation to histopathology. Post-therapeutic tissue changes were correctly visualized and the residual tumor mass could be detected. PC-CT outperformed clinical imaging modalities in the detection of chemotherapy-induced tissue alterations including post-therapeutic tumor size.
PC-CT might become a unique diagnostic tool in the prediction of tumor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. PC-CT might be used to assist during histopathological diagnosis, offering a high-resolution and high-contrast virtual histological tool for the accurate delineation of tumor boundaries.