Response criteria in oncologic imaging: review of traditional and new criteria

Radiographics. 2013 Sep-Oct;33(5):1323-41. doi: 10.1148/rg.335125214.


There has been a proliferation and divergence of imaging-based tumor-specific response criteria over the past 3 decades whose purpose is to achieve objective assessment of treatment response in oncologic clinical trials. The World Health Organization (WHO) criteria, published in 1981, were the first response criteria and made use of bidimensional measurements of tumors. The Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) were created in 2000 and revised in 2009. The RECIST criteria made use of unidimensional measurements and addressed several pitfalls and limitations of the original WHO criteria. Both the WHO and RECIST criteria were developed during the era of cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents and are still widely used. However, treatment strategies changed over the past decade, and the limitations of using tumor size alone in patients undergoing targeted therapy (including arbitrarily determined cutoff values to categorize tumor response and progression, lack of information about changes in tumor attenuation, inability to help distinguish viable tumor from nonviable components, and inconsistency of size measurements) necessitated revision of these criteria. More recent criteria that are used for targeted therapies include the Choi response criteria for gastrointestinal stromal tumor, modified RECIST criteria for hepatocellular carcinoma, and Immune-related Response Criteria for melanoma. The Cheson criteria and Positron Emission Tomography Response Criteria in Solid Tumors make use of positron emission tomography to provide functional information and thereby help determine tumor viability. As newer therapeutic agents and approaches become available, it may be necessary to further modify existing anatomy-based response-assessment methodologies, verify promising functional imaging methods in large prospective trials, and investigate new quantitative imaging technologies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / standards*
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Medical Oncology / standards*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / standards*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*