A recent study done by doctors at the University of California, Los Angeles has shown that using a special type of scan called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) instead of another type of scan called computed tomography (CT) can reduce side effects in men with prostate cancer who are receiving a type of radiation therapy called stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT).
SBRT is a type of radiation treatment that uses high doses of radiation to treat precise areas of the body, such as tumors. It is often used to treat prostate cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, head and neck cancer, and spine cancer. SBRT is a non-invasive, outpatient procedure that delivers radiation in a single session or a few sessions.
The radiation is delivered to the tumor from different angles, using advanced imaging technology, such as CT or MRI, to ensure that the high-dose radiation is precisely targeted to the tumor while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. SBRT is a highly effective treatment option for certain types of cancer and can be an alternative to surgery or traditional radiation therapy.
A Computed Tomography (CT) scan is a type of test that uses X-rays to create detailed pictures of the inside of the body.
The procedure typically takes about 15 to 30 minutes and involves lying on a table that slides into a large doughnut-shaped machine. The machine rotates around the person, taking multiple X-ray images from different angles. A computer then combines these images to create detailed, three-dimensional images of the inside of the body. CT scans use ionizing radiation which means that it may have some risks and should be used only when necessary.
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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is another type of medical scan that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the inside of the body. Unlike CT scans, MRI does not use ionizing radiation, which makes it a safe option for imaging certain body parts. The procedure typically takes about 30 minutes to an hour and involves lying on a table that slides into a large tube-shaped machine.
CT versus MRI
In terms of the advantages and disadvantages, CT scans are faster, more widely available, and typically less expensive than MRI. CT can also detect bone fractures and injuries better than MRI. On the other hand, MRI is better at imaging soft tissue and does not use ionizing radiation making it safer to use for certain cases like pregnant women or children.
Results of the Study
156 men with prostate cancer were randomly chosen to receive SBRT with either CT or MRI guidance, then both groups got the same dose of radiation. The primary goal of the study was to see if using MRI instead of CT would lower the number of side effects within 90 days of treatment.
The study found that using MRI led to fewer side effects compared to CT (24.4% vs 43.4%). Additionally, there were no side effects in the stomach or bowel area in the MRI group, while there were 4 cases in the CT group. These results show that using MRI guidance can lower the risk of side effects in men with prostate cancer receiving SBRT.
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