New MRI scan for blood cancer

18 February 2014

A new type of MRI scan could present hope for myeloma sufferers, a recent study has found. The technique has the potential to reduce reliance on painful bone marrow biopsies and show the spread of cancer with greater accuracy.

Myeloma, which affects the white blood cells, is one of the commonest forms of blood cancer. Unfortunately, it is difficult to visualise in the body, with conventional tests failing to pinpoint exactly where the cancer is located.

Whole-body, diffusion-weighted MRI scans could change all that. Twenty-six patients received scans before and after treatment, and results were encouraging. In 86% of cases, doctors could identify whether patients responded to treatment. They could also assess visible changes on the MRI scans through calculating the Apparent Diffusion Coefficient (ADC).

Professor Nandita deSouza from the Institute of Cancer Research said: "This is the first time we've been able to obtain information from all the bones in the entire body for myeloma in one scan without having to rely on individual bone X-rays. The scan is better than blood tests, which don't tell us in which bone the cancer is located. It also reduces the need for uncomfortable biopsies, which don't reveal the extent or severity of the disease."

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