By Rose Higgins and Mimi Huizinga, MD, MPH
A look at the insights and financial benefit provided by radiomics
In recent years, the personalization of medicine has accelerated greatly as a result of tremendous advances in genomics. Mapping of the human genome, including understanding the effect even minor abnormalities in the genetic structure can have, has enabled providers to select one treatment option over another even when two patients share similar factors, such as age, gender, weight, ethnicity, lifestyle, family history, etc.
Yet, despite the availability of all that data, understanding not only how effective a treatment plan might be, as well as how well it’s currently going, has remained a challenge. Because even when there are genetic similarities between patients and their tumors, the reality is they may still react differently to the same therapy. Often, providers won’t know for certain until the course of treatment is well underway – or completed.
At least, that has been the case until now. Fortunately, new advances in radiomics are helping providers obtain those answers earlier in the process. When combined with artificial intelligence (AI), the phenotype data being generated by radiomics is even beginning to yield biomarkers that can predict how a specific tumor or lesion will react to various treatment options, helping to guide the decision process.
Deeper, Non-Invasive Insights
The key is radiomics’ ability to see below the surface of a lesion. A typical radiology image is limited to two dimensions: length and width, basically the long and short. Radiologists can see whether a lesion is growing, shrinking, or remaining the same size in reaction to a course of treatment, but that is all they can measure.