Journal Articles

Publication Date



PLoS One


RATIONALE: Recent studies have discovered several unique tumor response subgroups outside of response classification by Response Evaluation Criteria for Solid Tumors (RECIST), such as mixed response and oligometastasis. These subtypes have a distinctive property, lesion heterogeneity defined as diversity of tumor growth profiles in RECIST target lesions. Furthermore, many cancer clinical trials have been activated to evaluate various treatment options for heterogeneity-related subgroups (e.g., 29 trials so far listed in for cancer patients with oligometastasis). Some of the trials have shown survival benefit by tailored treatment strategies. This evidence presents the unmet need to incorporate lesion heterogeneity to improve RECIST response classification.

METHOD: An approach for Lesion Heterogeneity Classification (LeHeC) was developed using a contemporary statistical approach to assess target lesion variation, characterize patient treatment response, and translate informative evidence to improving treatment strategy. A mixed effect linear model was used to determine lesion heterogeneity. Further analysis was conducted to classify various types of lesion variation and incorporate with RECIST to enhance response classification. A study cohort of 110 target lesions from 36 lung cancer patients was used for evaluation.

RESULTS: Due to small sample size issue, the result was exploratory in nature. By analyzing RECIST target lesion data, the LeHeC approach detected a high prevalence (n = 21; 58%) of lesion heterogeneity. Subgroup classification revealed several informative distinct subsets in a descending order of lesion heterogeneity: mix of progression and regression (n = 7), mix of progression and stability (n = 9), mix of regression and stability (n = 5), and non-heterogeneity (n = 15). Evaluation for association of lesion heterogeneity and RECIST best response classification showed lesion heterogeneity commonly occurred in each response group (stable disease: 16/27; 59%; partial response: 3/5; 60%; progression disease: 2/4; 50%). Survival analysis showed a differential trend of overall survival between heterogeneity and non-heterogeneity in RECIST response groups.

CONCLUSION: This is the first study to evaluate lesion heterogeneity, an underappreciated metric, for RECIST application in oncology clinical trials. Results indicated lesion heterogeneity is not an uncommon event. The LeHeC approach could enhance RECIST response classification by utilizing granular lesion level discovery of heterogeneity.


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Antineoplastic Agents, Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung, Female, Humans, Linear Models, Lung Neoplasms, Male, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Metastasis, Neoplasm Staging, Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, Survival Analysis



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