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AIMS: The use of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) as a prognostic marker of treatment response would enable early individualisation of treatment. We aimed to quantify the changes in mean apparent diffusion coefficient (ΔADCmean) between a DW-MRI at diagnosis and on fraction 8-10 of chemoradiotherapy (CRT) as a biomarker for cellularity, and correlate these with anal squamous cell carcinoma recurrence. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This prospective study recruited patients with localised anal cancer between October 2014 and November 2017. DW-MRI was carried out at diagnosis and after fraction 8-10 of radical CRT. A region of interest was delineated for all primary tumours and any lymph nodes >2 cm on high-resolution T2-weighted images and propagated to the ADC map. Routine clinical follow-up was collected from Nation Health Service electronic systems. RESULTS: Twenty-three of 29 recruited patients underwent paired DW-MRI scans. Twenty-six regions of interest were delineated among the 23 evaluable patients. The median (range) tumour volume was 13.6 cm3 (2.8-84.9 cm3). Ten of 23 patients had lesions with ΔADCmean ≤ 20%. With a median follow-up of 41.2 months, four patients either failed to have a complete response to CRT or subsequently relapsed. Three of four patients with disease relapse had lesions demonstrating ΔADCmean <20%, the other patient with persistent disease had ΔADCmean of 20.3%. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrated a potential correlation between patients with ΔADCmean <20% and disease relapse. Further investigation of the prognostic merit of DW-MRI change is needed in larger, prospective cohorts.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol)

Publication Date





874 - 883


ADC mean, anal cancer, diffusion-weighted MRI, functional imaging, prognostic biomarkers, Aged, Anus Neoplasms, Biomarkers, Tumor, Carcinoma, Squamous Cell, Chemoradiotherapy, Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Recurrence, Local, Prognosis, Prospective Studies, Tumor Burden