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Neuro Oncol. 2013 May;15(5):515-34. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/nos307. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

Differentiating tumor recurrence from treatment necrosis: a review of neuro-oncologic imaging strategies.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


Differentiating treatment-induced necrosis from tumor recurrence is a central challenge in neuro-oncology. These 2 very different outcomes after brain tumor treatment often appear similarly on routine follow-up imaging studies. They may even manifest with similar clinical symptoms, further confounding an already difficult process for physicians attempting to characterize a new contrast-enhancing lesion appearing on a patient's follow-up imaging. Distinguishing treatment necrosis from tumor recurrence is crucial for diagnosis and treatment planning, and therefore, much effort has been put forth to develop noninvasive methods to differentiate between these disparate outcomes. In this article, we review the latest developments and key findings from research studies exploring the efficacy of structural and functional imaging modalities for differentiating treatment necrosis from tumor recurrence. We discuss the possibility of computational approaches to investigate the usefulness of fine-grained imaging characteristics that are difficult to observe through visual inspection of images. We also propose a flexible treatment-planning algorithm that incorporates advanced functional imaging techniques when indicated by the patient's routine follow-up images and clinical condition.

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