top of page

ECR Speakers Offer Look At Radiology Present & Future

ECR Speakers Look at Radiology Present and Future

VIENNA - Radiology is moving toward a future in which radiologists, guided by artificial intelligence (AI), will be able to work more closely with clinicians to provide precise therapies that offer patients an improved quality of life, according to a series of speakers at the opening press conference of ECR (European Congress of Radiology) 2019.

This new beginning has just begun in oncology imaging, according to Dr. Regina Beets-Tan, PhD, of the Netherlands Cancer Institute, who detailed how imaging of oncologic biomarkers is already beginning to change the management of cancer patients.

Cancer experts predict that within 15 years, cancer will become a chronic disease in which nine of 10 patients will have a good quality of life, Beets-Tan noted. Many of these patients will need to have their disease managed on an ongoing basis, a role for which imaging is perfect, she said. Indeed, recent studies have indicated that a strategy of watching and waiting with imaging after patients show a complete response after chemotherapy can be as effective as resection.

Artificial intelligence will play a key role in this future, Beets-Tan said. Computers will assist radiologists and enable them to provide closer support to the clinical team. Radiologists may also need to communicate more with patients as imaging is increasingly used to track their disease.

Ultimately, Beets-Tan sees some of the greatest potential with radiopharmaceuticals that have both diagnostic and therapeutic applications -- so-called "theranostic" agents. Radiology will shift from a focus on following morphological changes as a sign of pathology to detecting genetic "mistakes" that are a sign of current or future disease.

"This is not a fairy tale -- this is already being done in breast cancer," she said, citing the MammaPrint molecular test, which can identify which tumors have a low risk of being life-threatening.

The role of artificial intelligence in radiology was emphasized by Dr. Elmar Kotter of University Medical Center Freiburg. Kotter reviewed the evolution of AI and noted the large number of submissions on AI that ECR received.