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Drug discovery and approval in oncology is mediated by the use of imaging to evaluate drug efficacy in clinical trials. Imaging is performed while patients receive therapy to evaluate their response to treatment. Response criteria, specifically Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors version 1.1 (RECIST 1.1), are standardized and can be used at different time points to classify response into the categories of complete response, partial response, stable disease, or disease progression. At the trial level, categorical responses for all patients are summated into image-based trial endpoints. These outcome measures, including objective response rate (ORR) and progression-free survival (PFS), are characteristics that can be derived from imaging and can be used as surrogates for overall survival (OS). Similar to OS, ORR and PFS describe the efficacy of a drug. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory approval requires therapies to demonstrate direct evidence of clinical benefit, such as improved OS. However, multiple programs have been created to expedite drug approval for life-threatening illnesses, including advanced cancer. ORR and PFS have been accepted by the FDA as adequate predictors of OS on which to base drug approval decisions, thus substantially shortening the time and cost of drug development (1). Use of imaging surrogate markers for drug approval has become increasingly common, accounting for more than 90% of approvals through the Accelerated Approval Program and allowing for use of many therapies which have altered the course of cancer. Keywords: Oncology, Tumor Response  RSNA, 2021.

Original publication




Journal article


Radiol Imaging Cancer

Publication Date





Oncology, Tumor Response, Endpoint Determination, Humans, Medical Oncology, Pharmaceutical Preparations, Progression-Free Survival, Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors