This technique may predict cancer patients’ ability to fight disease

Washington: A team of British researchers has suggested that a simple, non-invasive procedure can indicate how long a cancer patient may survive and whether they are likely to respond to immunotherapy.

The study suggested that the technique, which can be done using standard hospital-based Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans, can one day remove the need for patients to undergo life-threatening surgery to obtain a biopsy and provide an easier, quicker and safer way for doctors to prescribe the most appropriate cancer treatment.

The research was conducted in collaboration with the University of Liverpool and The Walton Centre in Liverpool, England.

Lead researcher Philip Rudland from the University of Liverpool said as a general rule, cancer that has spread is treated with chemotherapy or with targeted therapies such as immunotherapy – a relatively new treatment that works by stimulating the body’s immune system to fight cancer.

The major problem hindering the successful treatment of commonly-occurring cancers is not the primary tumour, which can usually be removed by surgery, but its spread or ‘metastasis’ to other organs in the body, forming secondary tumours.

To investigate why some patients with secondary brain cancer do better than others, the team used an MRI technique called Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) to analyse brain tumours from appropriate patients and then to sample the same areas for comparative biochemical tests.

The findings indicated that the higher the level of immune reactive cells round these tumours, the longer a patient lives, irrespective of the cancer type or other biological parameters.

One of the most frequent sites of metastasis is the brain.

Secondary, brain tumours may also reflect the presence of further secondaries elsewhere in the body, anyone of which can lead to the death of the patient.

The research is published in the journal Cancer Research. (ANI)