The process of finding out whether a tumor is malignant or benign is a long and painful one. However, that might not be the case for long. Researchers at UT Southwestern have made a breakthrough and developed a new MRI method that can identify the composition and aggressiveness of a tumor without the need to perform a biopsy.
“Biopsies are not entirely free of pain and discomfort,” explains Jeffrey Cadeddu, co-author on the new study. “Some patients, in fact, choose to observe the cancer simply to avoid the pain of the biopsy.”
The new MRI method is called multiparametric MRI or mpMRI. It involves a standardized diagnostic algorithm that evaluates several specific MRI images of a targeted renal mass. Several factors across different MRI images including the presence of microscopic fat in the tumor and the signal intensity in T2-weighted imaging are taken into account in the new technique.
“Using mpMRI, multiple types of images can be obtained from the renal mass and each one tells us something about the tissue,” says Ivan Pedrosa, another co-author on the study. This is not a replacement for all biopsies but serves as an additional investigative step that will significantly decrease the number of unnecessary biopsies.
The current method proposed by the research suggests physicians, aided by information supplied by the algorithm, can identify the most common malignant form of kidney tumor with a confidence of 80 percent. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done before the new MRI method can be rolled out all across the world, but the researchers are confident in their work and believe it is an excellent technique to add to the diagnostic toolkit.
You can see what they have to say about their research in the video below: