Approximately 3,300 cases of soft-tissue sarcoma (STS) are diagnosed in the UK every year. It is estimated that about half of these patients will live for five or more years following surgical removal of tumours. Radiotherapy, which kills tumour cells using high energy X-rays, can be used before surgery to improve the chances of successful treatment.
Conventional approaches for identifying whether a patient will respond well to radiotherapy involve taking pictures of the tumour with computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The size of the tumour is then monitored to determine whether the treatment is causing the cancer to get smaller. However, evidence suggests that soft tissue sarcomas consist of distinct areas that respond differently to radiotherapy. This means that overall size of the tumour doesn’t necessarily reflect how well the patient is responding to treatment.
How will this project tackle this challenge?
The aim of this study is to develop a new imaging approach that is more accurate in assessing soft tissue sarcomas’ response to radiotherapy. In particular, this approach would provide a spatial map that measures how the distinct areas within STS tumours are responding differently to the same treatment. This technique will be tested in a dedicated patient study, and confirmed by performing more analysis within each of the areas detected.
What this means for people affected by sarcoma
The team hope that their technique would provide a much better diagnostic assessment of soft tissue sarcomas’ response to radiotherapy, and allow treatment to be increased in the most aggressive regions of the cancer. This means that patients would have a better outcome with fewer side effects, by leaving healthy parts of the body undamaged.
Evidence suggests that soft tissue sarcomas consist of distinct areas that respond differently to radiotherapy. This means that overall size of the tumour doesn’t necessarily reflect how well the patient is responding to treatment.