DW-MRI and DCE-MRI are of complementary value in predicting pathologic response to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for esophageal cancer

Purpose: To explore the potential benefit and complementary value of a multiparametric approach using diffusion-weighted (DW-) and dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE-) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for prediction of response to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) in esophageal cancer.

Material and methods: Forty-five patients underwent both DW-MRI and DCE-MRI prior to nCRT (pre), during nCRT (week 2–3) (per) and after completion of nCRT, but prior to esophagectomy (post). Subsequently, histopathologic tumor regression grade (TRG) was assessed. Tumor apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) and area-under-the-concentration time curve (AUC) were calculated for DW-MRI and DCE-MRI, respectively. The ability of these parameters to predict pathologic complete response (pCR, TRG1) or good response (GR, TRG ≤ 2) to nCRT was assessed. Furthermore the complementary value of DW-MRI and DCE-MRI was investigated.

Results: GR was found in 22 (49%) patients, of which 10 (22%) patients showed pCR. For DW-MRI, the 75th percentile (P75) ΔADCpost-pre was most predictive for GR (c-index = 0.75). For DCE-MRI, P90 ΔAUCper-pre was most predictive for pCR (c-index = 0.79). Multivariable logistic regression analyses showed complementary value when combining DW-MRI and DCE-MRI for pCR prediction (c-index = 0.89).

Conclusions: Both DW-MRI and DCE-MRI are promising in predicting response to nCRT in esophageal cancer. Combining both modalities provides complementary information, resulting in a higher predictive value.