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What can whole-body MR mean for staging cancer more efficiently?

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | November 08, 2019
MRI Rad Oncology
From the November 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: Based on your research, was there a significant learning curve for radiologists to become comfortable and competent using whole-body MR?
ST: Like any complex imaging technique, there is a learning curve in interpretation, and performance improves with experience. We wanted to test how WB-MR would work if disseminated in the NHS. We, therefore, did not restrict our reporting radiologists to a handful of experts. Instead we used radiologists who were trained as they would be if they were starting up a WB-MR service at their hospital.

They therefore had access to a database of images which they had to review, and then, when they started reporting they initially had their reports checked by a more experienced radiologist, until they were deemed competent to report alone.

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HCB News: Aside from establishing the evidence, what needs to take place for whole-body MR to become a viable option for patients?
ST: Perhaps the biggest logical barrier to wider dissemination of WB-MR is space on MR scanners, which are usually already running at near capacity. However, given the potential cost savings of using first line WB-MR staging, it should be possible to provide a compelling business case to increase MR capacity in the NHS.

HCB News: Are there other indications where whole body MR might prove more efficient than conventional staging pathways?
ST: The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence now recommends WB-MR as an alternative to CT and PET/CT for staging myeloma. In other cancers such as prostate cancer, consensus guidelines recommend including WB-MR in trial designs of new therapeutics so its clinical utility can be fully assessed.

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