Predicting Long-Term Cognitive Outcome Following Breast Cancer with Pre-Treatment Resting State fMRI and Random Forest Machine Learning FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE Kesler, S. R., Rao, A., Blayney, D. W., Oakley-Girvan, I. A., Karuturi, M., Palesh, O. 2017; 11: 555


We aimed to determine if resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) acquired at pre-treatment baseline could accurately predict breast cancer-related cognitive impairment at long-term follow-up. We evaluated 31 patients with breast cancer (age 34-65) prior to any treatment, post-chemotherapy and 1 year later. Cognitive testing scores were normalized based on data obtained from 43 healthy female controls and then used to categorize patients as impaired or not based on longitudinal changes. We measured clustering coefficient, a measure of local connectivity, by applying graph theory to baseline resting state fMRI and entered these metrics along with relevant patient-related and medical variables into random forest classification. Incidence of cognitive impairment at 1 year follow-up was 55% and was predicted by classification algorithms with up to 100% accuracy (p < 0.0001). The neuroimaging-based model was significantly more accurate than a model involving patient-related and medical variables (p = 0.005). Hub regions belonging to several distinct functional networks were the most important predictors of cognitive outcome. Characteristics of these hubs indicated potential spread of brain injury from default mode to other networks over time. These findings suggest that resting state fMRI is a promising tool for predicting future cognitive impairment associated with breast cancer. This information could inform treatment decision making by identifying patients at highest risk for long-term cognitive impairment.

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