Diffusion-Weighted MRI as a Quantitative Imaging Biomarker in Colon Tumors

Peter Obel Otto, Martina Kastrup Loft, Søren Rafael Rafaelsen, Malene Roland Vils Pedersen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Purpose: To assess the use of quantitative diffusion-weighted MRI (DW-MRI) as a diagnostic imaging biomarker in differentiating between benign colon adenoma, early, and advanced cancer of the colon, as well as predicting lymph node involvement, and finally comparing mucinous-producing colon cancer with adenomas and non-mucinous colon cancer. Method: Patients with a confirmed tumor on colonoscopy were eligible for inclusion in this study. Using a 3.0 Tesla MRI machine, the main tumor mean apparent diffusion coefficient (mADC) was obtained. Surgically resected tumor specimens served as an endpoint, except in mucinous colon cancers, which were classified based on T2 images. Results: A total of 152 patients were included in the study population. The mean age was 71 years. A statistically significant mADC mean difference of −282 × 10 −6 mm 2/s [−419–−144 95% CI, p < 0.001] was found between colon adenomas and early colon cancer, with an AUC of 0.80 [0.68–0.93 95% CI] and an optimal cut off value of 1018 × 10 −6 mm 2/s. Only a small statistically significant difference (p = 0.039) in mADC was found between benign tumors and mucinous colon cancer. We found no statistical difference in mADC mean values between early and advanced colon cancer, and between colon cancer with and without lymph node involvement. Conclusion: Quantitative DW-MRI is potentially useful for determining whether a colonic tumor is benign or malignant. Mucinous colon cancer shows less diffusion restriction when compared to non-mucinous colon cancer, a potential pitfall.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144
Issue number1
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • ADC
  • DWI
  • MRI
  • adenoma
  • colon cancer
  • diffusion weighted imaging
  • mucinous


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