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J Clin Oncol. 2006 Jul 10;24(20):3299-308.

New technologies and directed agents for applications of cancer imaging.

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Department of Medical Imaging, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Molecular imaging represents tissue-specific imaging and quantification of physiologic (functional) and molecular events in tumors utilizing new noninvasive imaging modalities, radioligands, and contrast agents. It combines anatomic, physiologic, and metabolic information in a single imaging session. Molecular imaging relies on the ability to target genes and proteins that are linked directly or indirectly to human disease. New imaging biomarkers are being developed. In addition, functional and molecular imaging can potentially replace anatomic longitudinal studies by assessing treatment response earlier. Vascular targeting agents can be evaluated by imaging of tumor angiogenesis using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography and ultrasound, and positron emission tomography (PET). Targeted contrast agents can accomplish site-directed imaging or therapy by a variety of active and passive mechanisms. Furthermore, there is the possibility of combining different modalities such as ultrasonic imaging and MRI or MRI and PET to increase the flexibility unachievable with either modality alone. However, there is a need to standardize these techniques so that longitudinal evaluation of tumor response to treatment is feasible.

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