April 17, 2015 – Cancer and MRI


Anchor lead:  Can a new technique improve the ability of MRI to detect cancer? Elizabeth Tracey reports

A specific property of cancer cells has been exploited by Jeff Bulte, an MRI expert at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, to help the technique better identify cancer cells.

Bulte: It is known that cancer cells have less sugar on the outside as compared to normal cells and we have a specific MRI technique that is sensitive to the sugars, they provide contrast so the cancer cells have less contrast than the normal cells and we can detect them and determine whether or not they’re malignant.  :19

There are several important clinical implications of the technique.

Bulte: It’s important for the surgeons whether or not to take out the entire mass, it’s also some of the biopsies are very invasive, they’re not without risk so it you can do it noninvasively that would be perfect, the most important thing you can examine the entire tumor whereas biopsies provide a snapshot.  :16

Bulte says the protocol requires nothing new in terms of MRI machines, tracer chemicals, or procedures so it could be in clinical use very soon.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.