Spotting cancer without radiation
Common methods of cancer detection like positron emission tomography (PET) or computed tomography (CT) scans, use radiation to spot tumors. However, new studies show there may be a promising alternative.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California say a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that effectively diagnoses patients without the use of radiation, is holding promise.
The study, published in The Lancet Oncology, described the method of detection using an iron supplement called ferumoxytol. This supplement acts as a “contrast agent” that increases the visibility of tumors to MRI machines.
The ability to detect and monitor tumors without radiation would greatly lower the risk for children to have future, secondary cancers, study leaders said. They say statistics show the risk for lifetime cancer triples for children who have been given high doses of radiation for PET or CT scans. Experts also say that these scans triple the lifetime risk of secondary leukemia and brain cancer.
Still in its beginning stages, researchers hope further testing can help make this radiation option a clinical alternative to PET/CT scans.
The cost of the procedure is similar to traditional methods but the side effects differ greatly. There are no side effects to the new treatment, other than the potential allergic reaction to the iron supplement, researchers say. Study leaders say these added benefits make the method worth studying further.
Looking forward, lead author of the study, Dr. Heike Daldrup-Link, said in a statement, “We are in the process of applying for funding at the moment and if all goes well, might be able to start the multi-center trial this fall. We already received requests from two centers in Europe who want to join in as well.”
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