Bone Metastases Are Measurable: The Role of Whole-Body MRI and Positron Emission Tomography

Oprea-Lager DE, Cysouw MC, Boellaard R, Deroose CM, de Geus-Oei LF, Lopci E, Bidaut L, Herrmann K, Fournier LS, Bäuerle T, deSouza NM, Lecouvet FE (2021)

Publication Type: Journal article, Review article

Publication year: 2021


Book Volume: 11

Article Number: 772530

DOI: 10.3389/fonc.2021.772530


Metastatic tumor deposits in bone marrow elicit differential bone responses that vary with the type of malignancy. This results in either sclerotic, lytic, or mixed bone lesions, which can change in morphology due to treatment effects and/or secondary bone remodeling. Hence, morphological imaging is regarded unsuitable for response assessment of bone metastases and in the current Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors 1.1 (RECIST1.1) guideline bone metastases are deemed unmeasurable. Nevertheless, the advent of functional and molecular imaging modalities such as whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (WB-MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) has improved the ability for follow-up of bone metastases, regardless of their morphology. Both these modalities not only have improved sensitivity for visual detection of bone lesions, but also allow for objective measurements of bone lesion characteristics. WB-MRI provides a global assessment of skeletal metastases and for a one-step “all-organ” approach of metastatic disease. Novel MRI techniques include diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) targeting highly cellular lesions, dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) for quantitative assessment of bone lesion vascularization, and multiparametric MRI (mpMRI) combining anatomical and functional sequences. Recommendations for a homogenization of MRI image acquisitions and generalizable response criteria have been developed. For PET, many metabolic and molecular radiotracers are available, some targeting tumor characteristics not confined to cancer type (e.g. 18F-FDG) while other targeted radiotracers target specific molecular characteristics, such as prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) ligands for prostate cancer. Supporting data on quantitative PET analysis regarding repeatability, reproducibility, and harmonization of PET/CT system performance is available. Bone metastases detected on PET and MRI can be quantitatively assessed using validated methodologies, both on a whole-body and individual lesion basis. Both have the advantage of covering not only bone lesions but visceral and nodal lesions as well. Hybrid imaging, combining PET with MRI, may provide complementary parameters on the morphologic, functional, metabolic and molecular level of bone metastases in one examination. For clinical implementation of measuring bone metastases in response assessment using WB-MRI and PET, current RECIST1.1 guidelines need to be adapted. This review summarizes available data and insights into imaging of bone metastases using MRI and PET.

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Oprea-Lager, D.E., Cysouw, M.C., Boellaard, R., Deroose, C.M., de Geus-Oei, L.F., Lopci, E.,... Lecouvet, F.E. (2021). Bone Metastases Are Measurable: The Role of Whole-Body MRI and Positron Emission Tomography. Frontiers in Oncology, 11.


Oprea-Lager, Daniela E., et al. "Bone Metastases Are Measurable: The Role of Whole-Body MRI and Positron Emission Tomography." Frontiers in Oncology 11 (2021).

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