Radiomics in predicting treatment response in non-small-cell lung cancer: current status, challenges and future perspectives

Lung Cancer

Eur Radiol. 2020 Aug 18. doi: 10.1007/s00330-020-07141-9. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVES: Radiomics is the extraction of quantitative data from medical imaging, which has the potential to characterise tumour phenotype. The radiomics approach has the capacity to construct predictive models for treatment response, essential for the pursuit of personalised medicine. In this literature review, we summarise the current status and evaluate the scientific and reporting quality of radiomics research in the prediction of treatment response in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

METHODS: A comprehensive literature search was conducted using the PubMed database. A total of 178 articles were screened for eligibility and 14 peer-reviewed articles were included. The radiomics quality score (RQS), a radiomics-specific quality metric emulating the TRIPOD guidelines, was used to assess scientific and reporting quality.

RESULTS: Included studies reported several predictive markers including first-, second- and high-order features, such as kurtosis, grey-level uniformity and wavelet HLL mean respectively, as well as PET-based metabolic parameters. Quality assessment demonstrated a low median score of + 2.5 (range - 5 to + 9), mainly reflecting a lack of reproducibility and clinical evaluation. There was extensive heterogeneity between studies due to differences in patient population, cancer stage, treatment modality, follow-up timescales and radiomics workflow methodology.

CONCLUSIONS: Radiomics research has not yet been translated into clinical use. Efforts towards standardisation and collaboration are needed to identify reproducible radiomic predictors of response. Promising radiomic models must be externally validated and their impact evaluated within the clinical pathway before they can be implemented as a clinical decision-making tool to facilitate personalised treatment for patients with NSCLC.

KEY POINTS: • The included studies reported several promising radiomic markers of treatment response in lung cancer; however, there was a lack of reproducibility between studies. • Quality assessment using the radiomics quality score (RQS) demonstrated a low median total score of + 2.5 (range - 5 to + 9). • Future radiomics research should focus on implementation of standardised radiomics features and software, together with external validation in a prospective setting.