When it comes to detecting cancer, the sooner the better. But despite all the advances in medical imaging, it’s still difficult to accurately diagnose and stage a cancer tumor.
That’s why a new study of combined PET and MRI technology could be a huge win for cancer diagnosis.
PET/CT as the "gold standard"
PET scan technology can be more sensitive and specific than other imaging options. PET and CT combined is currently considered the “gold standard” for imaging and staging cancer.
However, there are two clear disadvantages: (1) low soft-tissue contrast and (2) higher radiation exposure for patients.
Review of combination scans
In the new study, researchers conducted 1,003 oncologic exams on 918 patients. The patients first had PET/CT scans, then PET/MRI scans. Scans were analyzed by board-certified nuclear medicine physicians and radiologists.
Overall, the PET/MRI technique found more lesions and made it easier to classify them. The PET/MRI combination was generally considered comparable or even superior to PET/CT in some cases.
Even better? PET/MRI reduced the patients’ radiation exposure. This is especially important for younger patients who may need more frequent imaging studies, and are more vulnerable to the complications of radiation exposure. It also means the same patient can receive the combined PET/MRI imaging more often, like for monitoring the success of treatment.
Studies and conditions
The study included patients with different cancers, including melanoma and lung, gastrointestinal, neuroendocrine, gynecologic, and prostate cancers. Details of the study were published Sept. 17 in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine. (Download the PDF version here.)
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