Molecular Imaging of Bone Metastases and Their Response to Therapy

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Bone metastases are common, especially in more prevalent malignancies such as breast and prostate cancer. They cause significant morbidity and draw on health-care resources. Molecular and hybrid imaging techniques, including SPECT/CT, PET/CT, and whole-body MRI with diffusion-weighted imaging, have improved diagnostic accuracy in staging the skeleton compared with previous standard imaging methods, allowing earlier tailored treatment. With the introduction of several effective treatment options, it is now even more important to detect and monitor response in bone metastases accurately. Conventional imaging, including radiographs, CT, MRI, and bone scintigraphy, are recognized as being insensitive and nonspecific for response monitoring in a clinically relevant time frame. Early reports of molecular and hybrid imaging techniques, as well as whole-body MRI, promise an earlier and more accurate prediction of response versus nonresponse but have yet to be adopted routinely in clinical practice. We summarize the role of new molecular and hybrid imaging methods, including SPECT/CT, PET/CT, and whole-body MRI. These modalities are associated with improvements in diagnostic accuracy for the staging and response assessment of skeletal metastases over standard imaging methods, being able to quantify biologic processes related to the bone microenvironment as well as tumor cells. The described improvements in the imaging of bone metastases and their response to therapy have led to adoption of some of these methods into routine clinical practice in some centers. These methods also provide a better way to assess the treatment response of bone metastases in clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-806
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • PET/CT
  • bone metastases
  • bone scintigraphy
  • whole-body MRI


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