Aim: To undertake a pilot study assessing whether tumour heterogeneity evaluated using computed tomography texture analysis (CTTA) has the potential to provide a marker of tumour aggression and prognosis in oesophageal cancer.
Materials and methods: In 21 patients, unenhanced CT images of the primary oesophageal lesion obtained using positron-emission tomography (PET)-CT examinations underwent CTTA. CTTA was carried out using a software algorithm that selectively filters and extracts textures at different anatomical scales between filter values 1.0 (fine detail) and 2.5 (coarse features) with quantification as entropy and uniformity (measures image heterogeneity). Texture parameters were correlated with average tumour 2-[(18)F]-fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose (FDG) uptake [standardized uptake values (SUV(mean) and SUV(max))] and clinical staging as determined by endoscopic ultrasound (nodal involvement) and PET-CT (distant metastases). The relationship between tumour stage, FDG uptake, and texture with survival was assessed using Kaplan-Meier analysis.
Results: Tumour heterogeneity correlated with SUV(max) and SUV(mean). The closest correlations were found for SUV(mean) measured as uniformity and entropy with coarse filtration (r=-0.754, p<0.0001; and r=0.748, p=0.0001 respectively). Heterogeneity was also significantly greater in patients with clinical stage III or IV for filter values between 1.0 and 2.0 (maximum difference at filter value 1.5: entropy: p=0.027; uniformity p=0.032). The median (range) survival was 21 (4-34) months. Tumour heterogeneity assessed by CTTA (coarse uniformity) was an independent predictor of survival [odds ratio (OR)=4.45 (95% CI: 1.08, 18.37); p=0.039].
Conclusion: CTTA assessment of tumour heterogeneity has the potential to identify oesophageal cancers with adverse biological features and provide a prognostic indicator of survival.
Copyright © 2011 The Royal College of Radiologists. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.