Associations Between Mammography and Ultrasound Imaging Features and Molecular Characteristics of Triple-negative Breast Cancer

  • Li, Bo (Department of Ultrasound, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University) ;
  • Zhao, Xin (Department of Surgery, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University) ;
  • Dai, Shao-Chun (Department of Ultrasound, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University) ;
  • Cheng, Wen (Department of Ultrasound, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University)
  • Published : 2014.04.30


Background: The triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive cancer characterized by the absence of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Preoperative mammography and ultrasound features of TNBC may potentially suggest characteristics of the disease and assist in treatment decisions. Materials and Methods: The study covered 153 patients with TNBC from May 2011 to May 2012 who were confirmed by postoperative pathology results in our hospital. We compared the radiological findings among the patients and sought to determine the significant iconographic features. The biomarkers p53 and Ki-67 are regarded as significant factors in TNBC. They were therefore used to divide the TNBC into four groups for assessment of relationships with TNBC imaging features. Results: On mammography, most TNBCs exhibit obscure (44.3%) masses. On ultrasound, the majority of masses (95.4%) were predominantly indistinct (50.7%), irregular (76.0%) or featuring posterior echo enhancement/shadowing. Color Doppler flow imaging (CDFI) emphasized hypervascular (32.9%) masses. Differences in CDFI by ultrasound among the four groups were statistically significant (p=0.009). There were obvious differences in the percentages of spiculated margin (p=0.049) and intensive posterior echo (p=0.006) with spotty flow imaging by ultrasound between the Ki-67 (+) p53 (+) and other groups. Conclusions: A combination of mammography and ultrasound revealed the imaging characteristics of TNBC included an obscure mass with less attenuated posterior echoes and some vascularity. A worse prognosis was associated with spiculated margin and intensive posterior echoes with spotty flow imaging.


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