The promise of dynamic contrast-enhanced imaging in radiation therapy

Semin Radiat Oncol. 2011 Apr;21(2):147-56. doi: 10.1016/j.semradonc.2010.11.001.


Dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scanning are emerging as valuable tools to quantitatively map the spatial distribution of vascular parameters, such as perfusion, vascular permeability, blood volume, and mean transit time in tumors and normal organs. DCE MRI/CT have shown prognostic and predictive value for response of certain cancers to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. DCE MRI/CT offer the promise of early assessment of tumor response to radiation therapy, opening a window for adaptively optimizing radiation therapy based upon functional alterations that occur earlier than morphologic changes. DCE MRI/CT has also shown the potential of mapping dose responses in normal organs and tissue for evaluation of individual sensitivity to radiation, providing additional opportunities to minimize risks of radiation injury. The evidence for potentially applying DCE MRI and CT for selection and delineation of radiation boost targets is growing. The clinical use of DCE MRI and CT scanning as a biomarker or even a surrogate endpoint for radiation therapy assessment of tumor and normal organs must consider technical validation issues, including standardization, reproducibility, accuracy and robustness, and clinical validation of the sensitivity and specificity for each specific problem of interest. Although holding great promise, to date, DCE MRI and CT scanning have not been qualified as a surrogate endpoint for radiation therapy assessment or for treatment modification in any prospective phase III clinical trial for any tumor site.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • Contrast Media