In our practice, it’s not uncommon to see patients with a health concerns or a family history of cancer. We’re not radiologists or oncologists, but we do treat a lot anxiety including health-related anxiety syndromes.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been widely used in the medical field for diagnostic purposes. With the advent of advanced MRI technology, whole body MRI has become a popular method for screening for cancer. This type of MRI scan involves taking images of the entire body to detect any signs of malignancy. However, like any medical procedure, whole body MRI has both risks and benefits, and it is important to weigh them carefully when considering this type of screening.
Benefits of Whole Body MRI in Cancer Screening
- Early Detection: Whole body MRI has the ability to detect cancers at an early stage, when they are still treatable. This can greatly increase the chances of successful treatment and recovery.
- High Sensitivity: Whole body MRI is highly sensitive and has the ability to detect even small and subtle changes in the body that may indicate the presence of cancer. This is particularly useful for detecting cancers that may not be easily detected by other screening methods, such as mammography or PSA tests.
- Non-Invasive: Whole body MRI is a non-invasive procedure, which means there is no exposure to ionizing radiation or any other potentially harmful substances. This is particularly beneficial for those who are pregnant or have compromised immune systems.
- Comprehensive: Whole body MRI provides a comprehensive view of the body, making it possible to detect cancers in multiple areas at the same time. This can save time and resources, as well as reducing the need for multiple diagnostic tests.
Risks of Whole Body MRI in Cancer Screening
- False Positives: Whole body MRI has the potential to produce false positive results and “incidentalomas” – findings of uncertain significance that would not be found without the screening, which can lead to unnecessary anxiety and further testing. In some cases, this can result in overdiagnosis and overtreatment of conditions that are not actually cancer.
- High Cost: Whole body MRI is a relatively new technology and can be expensive, particularly for those without insurance coverage. This can be a barrier for many people who may benefit from this type of screening.
- Time-Consuming: Whole body MRI can be a time-consuming procedure, and the results may not be available for several days or even weeks. This can be stressful for patients who are waiting for results and may also lead to delays in treatment.
- Limited Availability: Whole body MRI is not widely available and may not be accessible in all areas. This can make it difficult for people who live in rural or remote locations to access this type of screening.
Whole body MRI has the potential to revolutionize cancer screening, offering a non-invasive and comprehensive method for detecting cancers at an early stage. However, it is important to consider the risks and benefits of this technology before making a decision about whether or not to undergo this type of screening.
- Hahn PF, Baum RP, Kim JY. Whole-Body Magnetic Resonance Imaging for Cancer Screening. JAMA Oncology. 2015 Nov;1(8):1098-1103. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.1557.
- Rieder C, Lenz G, von Schulthess GK. Whole-body magnetic resonance imaging in oncology. Cancer Imaging. 2008 Dec;8(4):193-199. doi:10.1102/1470-73184.108.40.206.
- Adalsteinsson E, Lee JH, Acosta FL, et al. Whole-body magnetic resonance imaging for cancer screening. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2006 Aug.
In our practice, we’ve had a great experience with the team at Ezra; scans are read by top radiologists at leading institutions in the United States. While we are not recommending the procedure, Ezra is a reputable option if you wish to pursue it. Use of this service does not establish a physician-patient relationship, and we do not receive any tangible kickback or financial incentive for sharing this information.cancer-screening-reimagined_drjonathanterry