Osteosarcoma is the most common form of primary bone cancer occurring in teenagers and young adults. The ability to be cured of this tumour depends largely on factors such as how big the tumour is and if it has spread elsewhere in the body.

Other factors which affect patient survival relate to how well the tumour is responding to chemotherapy treatment and the amount of healthy tissue that had to be removed alongside the tumour during surgery; which is referred to as a surgical margin. An osteosarcoma tumour responding well to chemotherapy will require narrower surgical margins (a smaller amount of healthy tissue removed). However, a tumour that has not responded as well as initially anticipated to chemotherapy will require a larger amount of healthy tissue removed (known as a wider surgical margin), which ensures all tumour cells are fully removed and the osteosarcoma does not return at a later date.

Professor Lee Jeys and his team believe that a better indication of how well the patient has responded to chemotherapy would allow better decisions and surgical plans to be made before surgery. This would ensure that sufficient surgical margins are removed for each individual patient and the tumour has a lower chance of returning at a later date. This research plans to investigate if this is the case by using imaging-based techniques.

Recent advances in imaging techniques, known as functional imaging, provide images that inform doctors on how quickly the tumour is growing, if the tumour is producing any biological substances and how well the tumour is responding to chemotherapy. Professor Jeys plans to investigate if advanced functional imaging can provide clinicians with information on the tumour which may indicate the most appropriate approach to surgery.

This promising research aims to lower the likelihood of unsuccessful surgery and tumour recurrence while assessing patient outlook and taking the first steps into researching possible targets for new treatment developments.

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