Radiomics: using the power of informatics to more accurately diagnose and treat childhood brain tumours

Radiomics: using the power of informatics to more accurately diagnose and treat childhood brain tumours

Although childhood cancer is rare, it poses a huge struggle for the affected children and their families. Brain tumours are among the most common causes of death from cancer in children and the necessity for non-invasive characterisation of these tumours poses a considerable challenge.

We need to understand the disease to manage it effectively, but we can’t simply open up the brain; which is why medical imaging is so important.

MRI scanning is the key visualisation technology supporting the precise diagnosis of the tumour type, enabling medical staff to make informed decisions on the management of the disease. Going forward, by combining this imaging with new informatics technologies (e.g. computer processing, modelling, algorithmics) we can create new data that can be mined to identify useful characteristics, patterns, and disease markers.

This new field of ‘radiomics’ will mean more accurate prediction of disease progression, responsivity to treatments, and patients’ survival. MRI texture analysis, as one element that is being investigated here, is emerging as a powerful weapon in the arsenal of biomedical technologies in the battle against childhood cancer in the brain and central nervous system.

At the Institute of Digital Healthcare (IDH), in collaboration Birmingham Children’s Hospital, we are investigating the application of informatics and advanced computer algorithms to provide an intelligent decision support aid to clinicians for the characterisation of childhood brain tumours. We believe that the impact of digital technology and information can be transformative for not only healthcare, but to individuals and society. Children’s health journeys can be better understood and, as a consequence, we can reduce the burden of the disease for affected children and their families, while making further steady steps in the battle against cancer.

Theodoros N. Arvanitis is Professor of e-Health Innovation and Head of Research at the Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG, University of Warwick. For more information please visit www.warwick.ac.ukIDH