Tumor heterogeneity can be elucidated by mapping subregions of the lesion with differential imaging characteristics, called habitats. Dynamic Contrast Enhanced (DCE-)MRI can depict the tumor microenvironments by identifying areas with variable perfusion and vascular permeability, since individual tumor habitats vary in the rate and magnitude of the contrast uptake and washout. Of particular interest is identifying areas of hypoxia, characterized by inadequate perfusion and hyper-permeable vasculature. An automatic procedure for delineation of tumor habitats from DCE-MRI was developed as a two-part process involving: (1) statistical testing in order to determine the number of the underlying habitats; and (2) an unsupervised pattern recognition technique to recover the temporal contrast patterns and locations of the associated habitats. The technique is examined on simulated data and DCE-MRI, obtained from prostate and brain pre-clinical cancer models, as well as clinical data from sarcoma and prostate cancer patients. The procedure successfully identified habitats previously associated with well-perfused, hypoxic and/or necrotic tumor compartments. Given the association of tumor hypoxia with more aggressive tumor phenotypes, the obtained in vivo information could impact management of cancer patients considerably.
ASJC Scopus subject areas