Using whole body imaging to assess how well treatment is working for prostate cancer patients with bone metastases

Advanced prostate cancer commonly spreads to bones -- these are called bone metastases. Assessment of bone metastases using standard imaging techniques such as computer tomography or bone scan are inaccurate. Prof Koh and his colleagues are looking at whether an imaging technique called whole body magnetic resonance with diffusion weighted imaging (WBDWI) can be used to reliably monitor treatment response and disease progression in patients with advanced prostate cancer. WBDWI provides an overview of the bones from the head to the thighs, and is a promising method for assessing the response of bone metastases to treatment. The research team will test whether WBDWI can tell how well patients with advanced prostate cancer are responding to a drug treatment called olaparib.

In this study, men who respond well to olaparib treatment should show an improvement in the imaging measurements made using WBDWI. The researchers aim to identify patients who will benefit most from drug treatment, as well as measure how well the treatment is working in bone metastases. WBDWI could help towards early termination of ineffective treatment and the switch to new therapy, so that prostate cancer patients can be maintained with a good quality of life for as long as possible.

What have they done so far?

The team has analysed WBDWI from 21 patients before and after 12 weeks of treatment with olaparib, and have shown that changes measured using WBDWI can identify patients responding to olaparib treatment. In a separate analysis of 43 patients with advanced prostate cancer, they have also shown that patients with a larger volume of bone disease measured by WBDWI before treatment are more likely to have shorter life expectancy. The next step is to validate these findings in a larger number of patients enrolled to the TOPARP B clinical trial of olaparib.

Grant information

Researcher – Prof Dow-Mu Koh
Institution – Royal Marsden Hospital
Grant award - £221,580
Reference – PG14-016-TR2