Solving the "Catch 22" of rectal cancer
When rectal cancer infiltrates adjacent lymph nodes, patients may have a better clinical outcome if chemotherapy or radiotherapy are administered prior to the standard surgery to remove the tumour. However, the status of these lymph nodes can only be precisely assessed upon removal during surgery. To find a way out of this “Catch 22”, a multidisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, developed a new noninvasive MRI methodology, called SPI (Susceptibility Perturbation MRI), that is able to identify whether lymph nodes have been infiltrated by malignant cells with high accuracy. Such a characterisation can help define treatment strategy for rectal cancer patients and may have future implications for other malignancies.