Treatment options for most nervous system tumors remain limited and patients are often confronted with significant morbidity and reduced life expectancy. However, significant efforts are underway to find more effective therapies for patients with primary and secondary brain tumors. As more and more clinical trials for nervous system tumors are being conducted, it is increasingly important to optimize the conduct of clinical trials in neuro-oncology. One of the key aspects in this regard is the development of objective and standardized criteria that allow for accurate response assessment in clinical trials and prevent the misclassification of responders and non-responders. Such misclassification may lead to premature discontinuation of an actually effective agent, thereby withholding a potentially active treatment from the patient. Conversely, patients may be inappropriately continued on an inactive treatment. Moreover, such misclassification may confound the data obtained in such studies and may lead to false conclusions with regards to the efficacy of the investigated drug. Therefore, reliable response assessment criteria are necessary that not only accurately capture radiographic changes but also account for treatment-related changes and incorporate the assessment of clinical status and quality of life (QoL). The Response Assessment in Neuro-Oncology (RANO) working group is an international collaboration of neuro-oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists, and regulatory groups (among others) commissioned to develop objective and tumor-specific response criteria for various tumor subtypes. This article reviews the currently available response criteria for high-grade glioma, low-grade glioma, and brain metastases and discusses some of the barriers to accurate assessment of treatment response in neuro-oncology.
Keywords: Bevacizumab; Brain metastases; Brain tumor; Glioblastoma; High-grade glioma; Immunotherapy; Leptomeningeal disease; Low-grade glioma; Meningioma; Pseudoprogression; Pseudoresponse; RANO criteria; Response assessment; Response criteria; Spine metastases; Temozolomide.