By Rose Higgins and Mimi Huizinga, MD, MPH
The introduction of genomics was a significant advance in the battle against cancer. The ability to understand how specific genes predicted the likelihood of acquiring cancer or the success of a particular therapy added a new degree of precision and reliability to diagnosis and treatment.
Radiomics is poised to be the next great advance. This relatively new technology enables healthcare and life science organizations to take traditional images, such as MRIs and PET scans, and use artificial intelligence (AI) to extract hundreds of data points about the biology of a tumor or lesion. By comparing this newly available data to past images, as well as the biology of healthy organs, clinicians can gain a much deeper, ongoing understanding of how the tumor or lesion is responding to a specific therapy, informing their care and treatment decisions along every step. Radiomics adds valuable insights throughout a patient’s cancer journey from early identification and diagnosis to treatment and response to therapy to survivorship.
Radiomics provides the quantitative details about the tumor’s biology that traditional images lack. Researchers and clinicians gain information about the volume, texture, and many other factors in a non-invasive, low-cost way. When radiomic data is combined with clinical and genomic information, oncologists are better able to personalize which course of treatment will produce the best outcomes.
The value of radiomics during treatment begins with using the tumor biology to define a novel set of quantifiable patterns. These imaging biomarkers provide clinical signatures that are as unique as each patient, enabling clinicians to create an individualized treatment plan. Radiomics delivers a similar view to a biopsy but in a non-invasive manner, making it far easier for oncologists to track the treatment’s progress.
Radiomics can also have a significant impact on the way life sciences organizations develop and monitor their clinical trials, especially as more evidence is created and additional imaging biomarkers are identified. During the clinical trial radiomics can identify previously undiscoverable changes that point more precisely to the efficacy of a course of treatment without the need for a biopsy.
Finally, Radiomics plays an important role in survivorship by revealing the tumor biology and comparing it to prior images, ensuring all key factors are examined and no key clues to tumor response/behavior are missed.
Radiomics offers a powerful new weapon in the battle against one of the most prolific chronic conditions we face.