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Transl Oncol. 2009 Aug 18;2(3):184-90.

A feasibility study of parametric response map analysis of diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scans of head and neck cancer patients for providing early detection of therapeutic efficacy.

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The University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


The parametric response map (PRM) was evaluated as an early surrogate biomarker for monitoring treatment-induced tissue alterations in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) was performed on 15 patients with HNSCC at baseline and 3 weeks after treatment initiation of a nonsurgical organ preservation therapy (NSOPT) using concurrent radiation and chemotherapy. PRM was applied on serial apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) maps that were spatially aligned using a deformable image registration algorithm to measure the tumor volume exhibiting significant changes in ADC (PRM(ADC)). Pretherapy and midtherapy ADC maps, quantified from the DWIs, were analyzed by monitoring the percent change in whole-tumor mean ADC and the PRM metric. The prognostic values of percentage change in tumor volume and mean ADC and PRM(ADC) as a treatment response biomarker were assessed by correlating with tumor control at 6 months. Pixel-wise differences as part of PRM(ADC) analysis revealed regions where water mobility increased. Analysis of the tumor ADC histograms also showed increases in mean ADC as early as 3 weeks into therapy in patients with a favorable outcome. Nevertheless, the percentage change in mean ADC was found to not correlate with tumor control at 6 months. In contrast, significant differences in PRM(ADC) and percentage change in tumor volume were observed between patients with pathologically different outcomes. Observations from this study have found that diffusion MRI, when assessed by PRM(ADC), has the potential to provide both prognostic and spatial information during NSOPT of head and neck cancer.

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