Radiomics of pulmonary nodules and lung cancer
The large number of indeterminate pulmonary nodules encountered incidentally or during CT-based lung screening provides considerable diagnostic and management challenges. Conventional nodule evaluation relies on visually identifiable discriminators such as size and speculation. These visible nodule features are however small in number and subject to considerable interpretation variability. With the development of novel targeted therapies for lung cancer the diagnosis and characterization of early stage lung tumours has never been more important. Radiomics is a developing field aimed at deriving automated quantitative imaging features from medical images that can predict nodule and tumour behavior non-invasively. In contrast to conventional visual image features radiomics can extract substantially greater numbers of nodule features with much better reproducibility. This paper summarizes the basic process of radiomics and outlines why radiomic feature analysis may be particularly well suited to the evaluation of lung nodules. We review the current evidence for its clinical application with regards to pulmonary nodule management, considering promising applications such as predicting malignancy, histological subtyping, gene expression and post-treatment prognosis. Radiomics has the potential to transform the management of pulmonary nodules offering early diagnosis and personalized medicine using a method that is in cost-effective and non-invasive.