Imaging techniques to evaluate the response to treatment in oncology: Current standards and perspectives

CD Marcus, V Ladam-Marcus, C Cucu, O Bouché, Laurent Lucas et Christine Hoeffel

Response evaluation in solid tumours currently uses radiological imaging techniques to measure changes under treatment. Imaging requires a well-defined anatomical lesion to be viewed and relies on the measurement of a reduction in tumour size during treatment as the basis for presumed clinical benefit. However, with the development of anti-angiogenesis agents, anatomical imaging has became inappropriate as certain tumours would not reduce in size. Functional studies are therefore necessary and dynamic contrast enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI), DCE-computed tomography (CT) and DCE-ultrasonography (US) are currently being evaluated for monitoring treatments. Diffusion-weighted MR imaging (DW-MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) are also capable of detecting changes in cell density and metabolite content within tumours. In this article, we review anatomical and functional criteria currently used for monitoring therapy. We review the published data on DCE-MRI, DCE-CT, DCE-US, DW-MRI and MRS. This literature review covers the following area: basic principles of the technique, clinical studies, reproducibility and repeatability, limits and perspectives in monitoring therapy. Anatomical criteria such as response evaluation criteria in solid tumours (RECIST) will require adaptation to employ not only new tools but also different complementary techniques such as functional imaging in order to monitor therapeutic effects of conventional and new anti-cancer agents.