New MRI technique predicts treatment response for neuroendocrine cancer patients
Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and The Royal Marsden Hospital have shown that a specialist type of MRI scan can be used to predict and monitor neuroendocrine tumour patients’ response to a targeted radiotherapy.
Options for treating neuroendocrine tumours - cancers arising from hormone-producing cells that have spread to the liver - include surgery, chemotherapy and peptide receptor targeted therapy, a type of radiotherapy that enables radiation treatment to be directed to tumours.
However, until now doctors have not had a satisfactory way to predict which patients are likely to benefit from this targeted radiotherapy or assess whether patients are responding.
Professor Martin Leach and colleagues have shown that dynamic contrast enhanced (DCE-)MRI can be used to monitor and predict response to peptide receptor therapy.
DCE-MRI is a new technique which is particularly effective at measuring blood vessels. Neuroendocrine tumours have a large blood supply and the researchers were able to use this technique to measure reductions in the blood supply as a proxy for the effect on tumours, thereby showing when treatments were working.
Importantly, patients who responded to treatment were also found to have a lower contrast material distribution volume and a higher proportion of arterial flow, which could be helpful in assessing whether patients are likely to respond.
The test may help doctors to make decisions about which patients should be offered this targeted therapy, and whether to stop treatment if patients aren’t responding, avoiding side-effects for those who won’t benefit.
This type of MRI can be carried out on standard equipment, which is already available in hospitals around the country.