Purpose: Imaging plays a key role throughout the renal cell carcinoma (RCC) patient pathway, from diagnosis and staging of the disease, to the assessment of response to therapy. This review aims to summarise current knowledge with regard to imaging in the RCC patient pathway, highlighting recent advances and challenges. Methods: A literature review was performed using Medline. Particular focus was paid to RCC imaging in the diagnosis, staging and response assessment following therapy. Results: Characterisation of small renal masses (SRM) remains a diagnostic conundrum. Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) has been increasingly applied in this field, as have emerging technologies such as multiparametric MRI, radiomics and molecular imaging with 99mtechnetium-sestamibi single photon emission computed tomography/CT. CT remains the first-line modality for staging of locoregional and suspected metastatic disease. Although the staging accuracy of CT is good, limitations in determining nodal status persist. Response assessment following ablative therapies remains challenging, as reduction in tumour size may not occur. The pattern of enhancement on CT may be a more reliable indicator of treatment success. CEUS may also have a role in monitoring response following ablation. Response assessments following anti-angiogenic and immunotherapies in advanced RCC is an evolving field, with a number of alternative response criteria being proposed. Tumour response patterns may vary between different immunotherapy agents and tumour types; thus, future response criteria modifications may be inevitable. Conclusion: The diagnosis and characterisation of SRM and response assessment following targeted therapy for advanced RCC are key challenges which warrant further research.
- Renal cancer
- Treatment response