, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1216-1225
Date: 15 Mar 2006

Whole-body MRI and PET-CT in the management of cancer patients

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Abstract

Mortality rate, prognosis, and treatment outcome of cancer patients depend strongly on the detection of malignancy at an early stage and efficient monitoring of the disease. Multimodality diagnostic approaches are now widely applied for tumor detection, staging, and follow-up. However, the introduction of whole-body imaging modalities into clinical practice has substantially expanded diagnostic options. PET-CT has increased diagnostic accuracy by providing “anatometabolic” information by fusing tumor glucose-uptake measures from the PET examination and accurate delineation of anatomical structures given by spiral CT. Since PET-CT is associated with high doses of ionizing radiation, it is used in mainly tumor staging and screening within the scope of tertiary prevention. Here promising results have been reported for various tumor entities. MRI provides excellent tissue contrast, detailed morphological information and lack of ionizing radiation. MRI has been employed for the assessment of focal pathologies in specific anatomical regions. Whole-body MRI scanners using multiple receiver channels with parallel acquisition techniques now allow tumor screening from head to toe within substantially shorter examination times and without compromises in image resolution. We report our experience with these two novel techniques and discuss their benefits and drawbacks in terms of systemic tumor screening.