A new scanning technique that can provide images of a patient's entire body can reveal where cancer is affecting the bones and guide doctors in their choice of treatment, new research reveals.
Research on the technique — published in the journal Radiology, was conducted by The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust — found the so-called "diffusion-weighted MRI" scans showed the spread of cancer throughout the bone marrow of 26 patients with myeloma more accurately than standard tests. The scans also indicated whether the patients were responding to cancer treatments in 86 percent of cases.
Researcher Nandita deSouza said the scanning technique allowed doctors to pinpoint exactly where the cancer was in the bones, with the results available immediately. Conventional tests, such as bone marrow biopsies and blood tests, do not show where the cancer is present in the bones.
"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," said deSouza. "It enables us to measure the involvement of individual bones and follow their response to treatment.
"The results can be visualized 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."
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