Radiomics: A step towards precision medicine

A key goal of modern medicine is "precision medicine", the purpose of which is to personalise treatment based on the patient’s specific characteristics of the disease. Radiomics is rapidly emerging as a personalised medicine technology and is currently one of the most interesting fields of research.

To understand what Radiomics is, it is necessary to start by saying that some tumours are characterised by molecular alterations, such as genomic alterations. Given that it is possible to define these alterations, it is generally necessary to have a sample of the neoplastic tissue, which is obtained by biopsies or invasive surgical interventions. Currently, however, imaging diagnostics can enable tissues to be characterised in a non-invasive manner and, in some cases, can enable the profound phenotypic differences to be visualised. Since tumours are heterogeneous in their volume and change over time, diagnostic images can provide a full view of the entire tumour and can be repeated over time to monitor the changes induced by therapies.

Through Radiomics, the medical images, obtained by CT, MRI or PET scans, are converted into numerical data.  They are calculated by calculation tools and their analysis often required the use of advanced techniques, such as artificial intelligence methods.

This huge wealth of numerical data, which could not possibly be processed by means of simple visual observation, defines many characteristics of the tumour and the surrounding environment, related, for example, to its shape, volume and tissue structure.

It is possible to study the relationship between the data obtained from the images and the molecular and genomic characteristics of the tumour, with the final aim of extracting indications - directly from the images - regarding the aggressiveness of the disease, the most indicated therapies and its response to treatment.

Hopefully, in the near future, radiological imaging and radiomic models will be used as a decision-making support to clinical practice, to improve diagnostic accuracy and prognostic power.

Graphical abstract of the Radiomics workflow: quantitative parameters calculated from clinical images are analysed in combination with the patient’s biological, genetic and clinical characteristics. Thanks to the use of advanced techniques, it is possible to obtain useful information for diagnosis and for personalising treatment.




    The Radiomic Board coordinates Radiomics projects and Medical Imaging based studies proposed by multiple divisions and is responsible for their preliminary assessment, feasibility, management, supervision, support and development.

    The Radiomic Board is currently directed by Prof. Roberto Orecchia and is composed by Dr. Marta Cremonesi (Radiation Research, IEO), Prof. Barbara Jereczek (Radiotherapy, IEO), Prof. Giuseppe Petralia, Dr. Enrico Cassano, Dr. Cristiano Rampinelli, Prof. Massimo Bellomi, Dr. Francesco Ceci (Imaging Diagnostics, IEO), Prof.  Sara Gandini, Dr. Sara Raimondi, Dr. Aurora Gaeta, Dr. Sofia Netti (Biostatisticians, IEO), Prof. Davide La Torre (Artificial Intelligence and Mathematical Imaging, University of Milan), Prof. Giuseppe Curigliano (New Drugs and Early Drug Development for Innovative Therapies, IEO), Dr.  Giulia Tini  (Mathematicians, IEO).

    The Radiomic Board meets monthly to discuss together new proposals and the progress of ongoing studies. Since February 2022, the meetings, which are held online, include an open session for anyone who is interested.

    Open meetings are scheduled every third Thursday of the month, excluding July and August, from 2:30 to 3 p.m.

    We look forward to your participation. For more information and to participate, please write to [email protected]


    The IEO Radiomic Team is a multidisciplinary group of physicians, physicists, engineers and statisticians. All of these are actively involved in radiomics projects, each dealing with their respective areas of expertise.

    Clinical research questions are formulated and structured by the physicians, who are also responsible for image review and ground truth segmentation. Physicists and engineers support the process of image analysis and feature extraction. The statisticians in the group take care of radiomic model development and validation.

    The IEO radiomic team consists of specialists working in different divisions and units, which include the Divisions of Radiotherapy, Radiology, Breast Imaging, Nuclear Medicine, as well as the Medical Physics, the Molecular and Pharmaco-Epidemiology Unit and the Radiation Research Unit.

    People involved in radiomics projects meet in the Radiomic Team meetings held every two weeks on Monday, from 12:00 to 13:00 am.

    If you are interested, please write to [email protected] to join our mailing list and be updated on meeting dates and topics.


    To date, the IEO's Radiomic Team has worked on projects on various oncological diseases, both independently and as part of national and international scientific collaborations. More specifically, the oncological diseases involved are:

    -  Breast cancer

    - Prostate cancer

    - Lung cancer

    -  Lymphoma

    -  Head&neck

    -  Colon

    The “Radiomics in rEctal Cancer real wORld Data (RECORD)” project is a 3-year observational, retrospective, multicentre (8 Italian facilities) study funded by the Alliance Against Cancer (Alleanza Contro il Cancro, ACC). The purpose of the study is to build MRI-based radiomic models for predicting selected oncological outcomes in a cohort of 1000 patients with locally advanced rectal cancer. As far as IEO is concerned, the Divisions of Radiation Oncology and Radiology are responsible for providing clinical and annotated MRI imaging data.





    PETER PHAN: An MRI phantom for the optimisation of radiomic studies of the female pelvis.

    The IEO’s Radiomic Team is conducting several methodological studies related to the different stages of a typical radiomic workflow, spanning from image acquisition, reconstruction and pre-processing, to segmentation, feature extraction and statistical model development and validation.

    Specific phantoms useful for application to radiomic and dosomic studies (pelvis MRI phantom for gynaecological pathology; breast MRI phantom; lung CT phantom) were developed. Repeatability and reproducibility of radiomic features calculation were investigated according to the variation of acquisition and reconstruction imaging parameters, and to the use of different settings for radiomic features calculation. Other projects studied image processing techniques to improve the robustness of quantitative image analysis (e.g.: intensity scale standardization, inhomogeneity correction, image filtering, customized image reconstruction) and radiomic data harmonization. The radiomics team dealt also with the evaluation, comparison and development of methods of auto-segmentation and detection with artificial intelligence techniques, including deep learning, and evaluated the impact of their use on radiomic models. Specifically, a model for auto-segmentation of prostate and a model for early detection of lung nodules have been developed. Finally, different statistical approaches were investigated looking at possible impact on results of statistical methodological choices such as features selection and classification methods.

    Different steps of radiomics workflow in breast imaging


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Last update date: 21/07/2023


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