Researchers find connection between peritumoral edema in breast cancer patients and disease recurrence

If preoperative MR imaging reveals the presence of peritumoral edema in a patient with invasive breast cancer, it could be a sign of disease recurrence later on, according to new research published in Radiology.

As the authors explained, even though the survival rate of patients with breast cancer has improved dramatically in recent years, it remains one of the deadliest cancers in the United States. Specialists know more about the disease than ever before, but there is still much to learn. By learning more about the significance of finding peritumoral edema in MR imaging, for example, researchers can gain a better understanding of when a patient’s cancer may or may not return.

“A complete understanding of the potential clinical importance and prognostic value of the finding of peritumoral edema, including associated clinical-pathologic factors, has not yet been established,” wrote lead author Won Hwa Kim, MD, PhD, department of radiology at Kyungpook National University Medical Center in Daegu, South Korea, and colleagues. “Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the prognostic value of peritumoral edema identified at preoperative breast MR imaging for disease recurrence in patients with invasive breast cancer.”

The authors studied data from more than 350 women with invasive breast cancer who had undergone preoperative MR imaging and a mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery. Two radiologists independently reviewed each image. Patients undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy were excluded due to typically being associated with “more aggressive breast cancers” and “possibly a higher proportion of peritumoral edema.”

Overall, more than 6 percent of patients had disease recurrence after a median of 27.2 months of follow-up. The presence of peritumoral edema was found to be an independent factor associated with disease recurrence. “Peritumoral edema was found in a significantly higher proportion in patients with disease recurrence than in patients without disease recurrence (50.0 percent vs. 21 percent),” the authors wrote. “A significant trend toward higher disease recurrence in a stepwise manner was observed in accordance with higher grades of peritumoral edema for each of the two radiologists.”

The team concluded their analysis by adding that this finding may help “provide better prognostication in patients with invasive breast cancer.”