The CT flare response of metastatic bone disease in prostate cancer - Abstract

Cancer Research UK Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research Group, Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Surrey.


New or worsening bone lesions in patients responding to treatment, known as the flare phenomenon is well described on (99m)Tc-MDP bone scintigraphy, but to our knowledge has not previously been described on CT. The appearance of new or worsening bone sclerosis on CT in patients with prostate cancer may therefore be erroneously classified as disease progression.

To assess the incidence of osteoblastic healing flare response at 3-month CT assessment in patients with castrate-resistant prostate cancer and to identify associated features that enable differentiation from progressive metastatic bone disease at 3 months.

CT scans of 67 patients with castrate-resistant prostate cancer undergoing treatment were reviewed by a radiologist blinded to clinical outcome. Changes in number, size, and density of metastatic bone lesions were documented and Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumours (RECIST) in soft tissue lesions, alkaline phosphatase, prostate specific antigen, and (99m)Tc-MDP bone scans were used for correlation.

Of the 39 patients who had 3- and 6-month follow-up, eight patients (21%) demonstrated an increase in number, size, or density of sclerotic lesions on the 3-month CT scan despite improvement in PSA and soft tissue lesions. Three out of eight patients (8%) maintained partial response/remained stable at follow-up and were defined as showing a flare response: in this group bone metastases evident on CT showed a qualitative and quantitative increase in density and no lesions faded at 3 months. In contrast, in all patients who progressed at 3 months by PSA/RECIST criteria (n = 8) bone lesions showed a mixed pattern with some lesions increasing and others decreasing in density.

The incidence of flare response of metastatic bone disease evident at 3-month post-treatment CT in patients with prostate cancer undergoing systemic treatment is 8%. In patients with falling PSA and stable/responding soft tissue disease at 3 months an increase in bone sclerosis in the absence of fading bone metastases can be interpreted as flare and is likely to represent a response.

Written by:
Messiou C, Cook G, Reid AH, Attard G, Dearnaley D, de Bono JS, de Souza NM.   Are you the author?

Reference: Acta Radiol. 2011 Mar 23. [Epub ahead of print.
doi: 10.1258/ar.2011.100342

PubMed Abstract
PMID: 21498309 Prostate Cancer Section