Single WB-MRI scan: the future of cancer screening?

The two largest studies to compare WB-MRI with standard scans have hailed their equivalent effectiveness and quantifiable benefits. It is reported this could lead to a breakthrough in cancer screening.

Two studies, published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine and Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology, have highlighted the benefits of using single WB-MRI scans in assessing cancer spread in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and colorectal cancer.

This could replace the current combination of CT, PET and MRI scans, which would create cost and time benefits.

‘Using WB-MRI, NSCLC patients were fully assessed within an average of 13 days, compared to 19 days using multiple scans. For colorectal cancer, the difference was eight days compared with 13 days.

The average cost of a WB-MRI scan for NSCLC patients was £317, half the £620 cost for multiple scans. The cost of a WB-MRI scan for colorectal patients was £216, compared with £285 for multiple scans.’


Other potential benefits of using the WB-MRI scan include:

  • Reduction in ionizing radiation exposure
  • Increased health outcomes due to reduced waiting periods
  • Decreased patient anxiety caused by waiting periods

Director of the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme, Professor Hywel Williams, commented that:

“These are promising results which suggest that just one whole body MRI scan is as good as multiple scans for different body sites for informing treatment decisions. The process is also quicker and preferred by patients. If implemented widely, such a strategy could reduce waiting times for patients to start treatment for two of the deadliest forms of cancer.”

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Published on 16. May 2019 in News, News UK