JAN 21, 2021 9:09 AM PST

Whole body MRI shown to be most sensitive in detecting myeloma

New research suggests that whole body magnetic resonance imaging (WBMRI) is a more effective detection method than other techniques used to detect myeloma. Myeloma is a cancer of the bone marrow that affects 140,000 new people every year across the world. These findings are reported in the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging from researchers at King's College London.

Myeloma has a relatively grim outlook, with fewer than 50% of patients surviving five years past diagnosis. One of the tricky aspects of the disease is that it has been difficult to determine which imaging technique is best for diagnostics. Other than WBMRI, positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) is another imaging test often administered.

Now new findings gathered from an analysis of 46 patients with suspected myeloma shows that WBMRI is, in fact, the most sensitive test that can detect myeloma in bone marrow. Lead researcher Professor Vicky Goh from King's College London comments:

"Our results showed that imaging with WBMRI changed how patients would have been managed by their doctors in 24 percent of cases, where review of clinical data alone would have resulted in surveillance only. What this ultimately means for patients is improved outcomes from earlier treatment. WBMRI resulted in a decision-to-treat in an additional 7% of patients compared with PET/CT."

The study provides more evidence supporting using WBMRI as a first-line imaging test for suspected myeloma. "Earlier diagnosis and treatment is key to improving patient outcome. Forty percent of NHS hospitals still only perform X-rays, an insensitive test, for diagnosing bone disease in suspected myeloma. This clearly needs to change," says Goh.

Sources: European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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