There’s a new technique in magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) that scan the patient’s entire body, which means doctors can now see where the patient’s bones may be affected by cancer. Because of this new technique, we can start to decrease our bone marrow biopsies in patients with myeloma (cancer in the blood cells in bone marrow), which is a painful test that doesn’t always yield the extensive results we need. Sure, a biopsy can show cancer or not, but it can’t always measure precisely how it has spread, so patients will often need to undergo multiple painful biopsies to determine the severity of their cancer.
The research for the full-body MRI scans was funded by the Institute of Cancer Research and Cancer Research UK.
“The research found that the new MRI scan was more accurate in documenting the spread of myeloma – and whether the patient was responding or not to treatment – than existing test. And not only is the new scan more accurate than conventional tests such as biopsies or blood tests, but also it is faster – with doctors being able to view the results immediately.”
The research had 86% of cases where the doctor could use the scans to correctly identify the patients that had responded to treatment and 80% of cases where patients did not respond to treatment.
96% of cases allowed doctors to correctly gauge any water restriction in the tissue based on scans.
“With the new scan, doctors are able to detect cancer in almost any bone in the body, with the exception of the skull. The skull is a difficult area of the body to visualize in MRI scans, often due to metal dental implants and fillings.”
They’re research continues as they look for more subjects in their study to refine the details, but they hope to see this tool extend the life of myeloma patients.
You can read the details of the study here.