Tumor-analysis technology speeds treatment decisions for colorectal cancer

A novel medical-imaging technology, TexRAD, which analyzes the texture of tumors, has been shown in trials to enable early diagnosis of colorectal cancer in patients not responding to the standard cancer therapy better than other available tumor markers. This will help make earlier and more accurate treatment decisions and survival assessments for patients with colorectal cancer.

Furthermore, the TexRAD markers demonstrated the ability to assess at an early stage the likelihood of survival, distinguishing patients who will have a good prognosis from those having poor prognosis.

“By using TexRAD to scan for subtle anomalies in a tumor's texture, researchers have been able to spot more quickly when treatments are—or are not—working and adjust treatment accordingly,” said Balaji Ganeshan, PhD, of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.

“And because TexRAD simply provides an additional layer of software analysis of the MRI and CT scans that already exist as part of routine clinical practice, it is noninvasive from the patient's point of view and potentially cost-effective to the health care provider.”

The technology is being evaluated in a number of prestigious research institutions and university hospitals around the world.

Across two separate UK studies, researchers analyzed the tumors of 155 patients with bowel cancer. The findings of all these studies were presented at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) 2014 Meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

In a study at University College London Hospitals, researchers analyzed baseline PET-CT scans, which were taken before treatment, and then followed up with the patients for an average of 3 years later. They found that analyzing the texture of the tumors in the initial scans enabled them to accurately predict patient survival.

At Colchester General Hospital, the researchers looked at MR scans taken both before treatment and 6 weeks after the patients had completed chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and found that patients whose tumors were less heterogeneous, meaning more uniform, in terms of texture parameters 6 weeks after treatment were more likely to survive longer.

Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Rome in Italy found that texture analysis provides useful ‘imaging biomarkers' that indicate how the tumor is responding to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

“The identification of new, accurate imaging biomarkers such as TexRAD analysis of MR images for early assessment of first-line cancer therapy response (predominantly to shrink the tumor before the main treatment) could be helpful in refining bowel cancer management, providing a better targeting of preoperative therapy,” said Professor Andrea Laghi, MD, professor of radiology at the University of Rome and principal investigator of the study.

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