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RECIST measurements in cancer treatment: is there a role for physician assistants? - A pilot study

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Background: Decision making in cancer treatment is influenced by standardized RECIST measurements which are subjective to interobserver variability. Aim of this pilot study was to evaluate whether it is feasible to transfer the radiologist's task of RECIST measurements to a trained radiology physician assistant and whether this influences diagnostic performance.

Methods: 177 lesions in twenty patients were measured on baseline and two follow-up CTs using RECIST 1.1: Arm A according to routine clinical practice where various radiologists read scans of the referred patients. Arm B according to the experimental setting where a radiology physician assistant performed RECIST measurements of target lesions defined by the radiologists on baseline scans. Performance and agreement were compared between groups.

Results: Standard deviation between lesion measurements of arm A and B was four millimeters. Interobserver agreement comparing response category classification was substantial, kappa = 0.77 (95% CI: 0.66 - 0.87). Sensitivity and specificity for the radiology physician assistant for assessing progressive disease were 100% (95% CI: 61% - 100%) and 94% (95% CI: 81% - 98%) respectively.

Conclusion: RECIST measurements performed by a paramedic are a feasible alternative to standard practice. This could impact the workflow of radiological units, opening ways to re-assigning radiologists' important, standardized but time consuming tasks to paramedics.

    Research areas

  • RECIST 1.1, Target lesion measurement, Interobserver variability, Radiology physician assistant, Paramedics, Radiological unit workflow, RESPONSE EVALUATION CRITERIA, GUIDELINE VERSION 1.1, INTRAOBSERVER VARIABILITY, SOLID TUMORS, INTEROBSERVER, THERAPY, CT
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Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Imaging
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2014