MRI identifies primary endometrial and cervical cancer

May 3, 2011, American Roentgen Ray Society

MRI can determine if a patient has endometrial versus cervical cancer even when a biopsy can't make that distinction, according to a new study. Determining the primary site of a tumor helps determine appropriate cancer treatment.

The study, which is being presented during the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting on May 3 in Chicago, found that radiologists using MRI could correctly identify the primary site of cancer in 79% of cases (38/48 patients) when biopsy results are inconclusive.

Endometrial and cervical cancers are common cancers in women, said Heather He, MD/PhD, of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where the study was conducted under the direction of Dr. Iyer and Dr. Bhosale. "In about 3% of the cases, there is difficulty determining the primary cancer site," she added. "Knowing the primary cancer site means that we can give the patients the most appropriate therapy and save some patients from unnecessary surgery," Dr. He said.

Two radiologists read the images as part of the study – one with five years experience and one with 18. Their diagnoses matched most of the time, which means that the readers' experience didn't have much of an impact on the study results, said Dr. He. " can be applied on a broader scope; you don't have to have someone on staff with extensive experience to be able to offer this imaging service," she said.

The study also examined various MR sequences to determine which one was the most useful in making a diagnosis. "We found that sagittal T2 FSE weighted sequences and 2D and 3D T1 weighted dynamic enhanced sequences are the most helpful," Dr. He said.

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