New MRI scan could improve cancer treatment

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Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014 11:01 am | Updated: 11:03 am, Thu Jan 30, 2014.

Bone marrow biopsies can be painful for patients with myeloma, which is one of the most common forms of blood cancer, and often fail to show doctors how far the disease has spread. However, a new type of MRI scan could improve care for myeloma and reduce reliance on bone marrow biopsies.

The study conducted at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, involved 26 patients who had the new whole-body, diffusion-weighted MRI scans before and after treatment. In 86 percent of cases, experienced doctors trained in imaging were able to spot whether patients responded to treatment. The doctors also correctly identified those patients who weren’t responding to treatment 80 percent of the time. Also, by using the scanning technique, doctors could pinpoint exactly where the cancer was in the bones, with the results available right away.

"The results can be visualised immediately; we can look on the screen and see straight away where the cancer is and measure how severe it is. The scan is better than blood tests, which don't tell us in which bones the cancer is located. It also reduces the need for uncomfortable biopsies, which don't reveal the extent or severity of the disease,” Professor Nandita deSouza, Professor of Translational Imaging at The Institute of Cancer Research and Honorary Consultant at The Royal Marsden, was quoted as saying.

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