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Cancer Imaging. 2013 Mar 26;13:140-9. doi: 10.1102/1470-7330.2013.0015.

Quantifying tumour heterogeneity with CT.

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Institute of Nuclear Medicine, University College London, Eustace Road, London, UK.


Heterogeneity is a key feature of malignancy associated with adverse tumour biology. Quantifying heterogeneity could provide a useful non-invasive imaging biomarker. Heterogeneity on computed tomography (CT) can be quantified using texture analysis which extracts spatial information from CT images (unenhanced, contrast-enhanced and derived images such as CT perfusion) that may not be perceptible to the naked eye. The main components of texture analysis can be categorized into image transformation and quantification. Image transformation filters the conventional image into its basic components (spatial, frequency, etc.) to produce derived subimages. Texture quantification techniques include structural-, model- (fractal dimensions), statistical- and frequency-based methods. The underlying tumour biology that CT texture analysis may reflect includes (but is not limited to) tumour hypoxia and angiogenesis. Emerging studies show that CT texture analysis has the potential to be a useful adjunct in clinical oncologic imaging, providing important information about tumour characterization, prognosis and treatment prediction and response.

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