Emerging and Evolving Concepts in Cancer Immunotherapy Imaging

Criteria based on measurements of lesion diameter at CT have guided treatment with historical therapies due to the strong association between tumor size and survival. Clinical experience with immune checkpoint modulators shows that editing immune system function can be effective in various solid tumors. Equally, novel immune-related phenomena accompany this novel therapeutic paradigm. These effects of immunotherapy challenge the association of tumor size with response or progression and include risks and adverse events that present new demands for imaging to guide treatment decisions. Emerging and evolving approaches to immunotherapy highlight further key issues for imaging evaluation, such as dissociated response following local administration of immune checkpoint modulators, pseudoprogression due to immune infiltration in the tumor environment, and premature death due to hyperprogression. Research that may offer tools for radiologists to meet these challenges is reviewed. Different modalities are discussed, including immuno-PET, as well as new applications of CT, MRI, and fluorodeoxyglucose PET, such as radiomics and imaging of hematopoietic tissues or anthropometric characteristics. Multilevel integration of imaging and other biomarkers may improve clinical guidance for immunotherapies and provide theranostic opportunities.

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