Using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with a special vaginal coil, a technique to measure the movement of water within tissue, researchers may be able to identify cervical cancer in its early stages, according to a new study.
The new technique offers better imaging of smaller tumors and may also improve surgical options when fertility-sparing procedures are being considered.
“Small lesions are often difficult to image, but imaging their full extent is important in surgical planning,” said study author Nandita deSouza, F.R.C.R., professor and co-director of the Cancer Research UK Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research Group at The Institute of Cancer Research in London, U.K.
“By adding this technique to image the diffusion, or movement, of water within tissue, we can improve the accuracy of detecting small tumors.”
The American Cancer Society estimates that 11,070 American women will be diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in 2008.
Largely attributable to increased use of the Pap test, cervical cancer death rates declined 74 percent between 1955 and 1992 and continue to decline by nearly 4 percent annually.
“Cervical cancers increasingly are being picked up at an earlier stage,” deSouza said. “This procedure causes no more discomfort than a Pap test and the diffusion-weighted imaging itself only takes 84 seconds.” The entire procedure takes approximately 15 minutes.
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