Radiation-Free Cancer Scans Making Their Way

Radiation-Free Cancer Scans Making Their Way

Mackenzie Thompson

by Mackenzie Thompson

Life Saver, AMC

posted on Feb 24, 2014, at 9:50 pm

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CONCERN OVER THE DAMAGE OF RADIATION to children and adults is on the rise. Fortunately, a new method of scanning for signs of cancer has been developed though it’s only been tested on a few patients. Even so, encouraging results came forth from the study and it suggests that “we can solve the conundrum between the need for whole-body [scans] and the risk of potentially inducing cancer later in life,” said lead author Dr. Heike Daldrup-Link, an associate professor in the department of radiology at the Stanford School of Medicine’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

Radiation exposure due to cancer scans is an issue to adults, but the greater threat seems to be to children and young adults, according to Dr. Thomas Slovis, staff pediatric radiologist at Children’s Hospital of Michigan who was not part of the study. He states that children and young adults (under the age of 40) are still growing and developing, thus their cells are dividing and vulnerable to disruptions in the DNA. Also, younger individuals have more years left in their lives to be exposed to more radiation and to develop tumors, he says.

Slovis brings us good news in saying that “there’s been a tremendous improvement in the radiation dose in the newer machines manufacturers are now producing”. This introduces a new alternative that doesn’t require radiation to scan. Rather, they are working on MRI scans in addition to a type of iron supplement called a “contrast agent” that will help radiologists examine inside the body.

The study included the scanning of 22 patients from the ages of 8 to 33 who had lymphomas and sarcomas being scanned. The number of tumors using the new MRI method was 158 tumors and an orthodox radiation scanning (a combination of PET and CT) had 163 tumors, which proved to be strikingly similar results.

“If treatment decisions had been made based on either of these scans, the decision would have been the same,” Daldrup-Link said. Not to mention the costs for the two are very similar.

Although MRIs use radio waves as opposed to radiation, there are no consequent side effects unless the patient is allergic to the contrast agent.

Moreover, more research and testing needs to be done before it can hit prime time. Until then, “there’s not enough information to say we have it,” Slovis says.

Professor of radiology and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Dr. Marta Hernanz-Schulman agrees, saying “It’s a great step forward in the quest for the ideal test, but it needs to be evaluated”; the ideal test being one that can scan children for cancer without using radiation or sedation.

To read the full article, visit Medicine Net

About Mackenzie

Mackenzie is a lover of world travel, photography, design, style and Chinese cooking. She is passionate about working towards a purpose, recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Media and Marketing, and is currently residing in Manhattan.

Contact Mackenzie at mackenzie.thompson@advmedcert.com
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