Highly accurate response prediction in high-risk early breast cancer patients using a biophysical simulation platform

Pathologic complete response (pCR) to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in early breast cancer (EBC) is largely dependent on breast cancer subtype, but no clinical-grade model exists to predict response and guide selection of treatment. A biophysical simulation of response to NAC has the potential to address this unmet need.

We conducted a retrospective evaluation of a biophysical simulation model as a predictor of pCR. Patients who received standard NAC at the University of Chicago for EBC between January 1st, 2010 and March 31st, 2020 were included. Response was predicted using baseline breast MRI, clinicopathologic features, and treatment regimen by investigators who were blinded to patient outcomes.

A total of 144 tumors from 141 patients were included; 59 were triple-negative, 49 HER2-positive, and 36 hormone-receptor positive/HER2 negative. Lymph node disease was present in half of patients, and most were treated with an anthracycline-based regimen (58.3%). Sensitivity and specificity of the biophysical simulation for pCR were 88.0% (95% confidence interval [CI] 75.7 – 95.5) and 89.4% (95% CI 81.3 – 94.8), respectively, with robust results regardless of subtype. In patients with predicted pCR, 5-year event-free survival was 98%, versus 79% with predicted residual disease (log-rank p = 0.01, HR 4.57, 95% CI 1.36 – 15.34). At a median follow-up of 5.4 years, no patients with predicted pCR experienced disease recurrence.

A biophysical simulation model accurately predicts pCR and long-term outcomes from baseline MRI and clinical data, and is a promising tool to guide escalation/de-escalation of NAC.

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