MRI scans: can MRI detect cancer?

can mri show cancerMRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a tool that looks inside the body to diagnose injury, disorders or diseases by detecting fractures, infection and tumours.

MRI is one of the primary ways of detecting cancer. Using MRI, doctors can determine if a tumour exists, if it is benign (not cancerous) or if the tumour is malignant (cancerous.) MRI can also help show if cancer is spreading to other areas of the body. MRI scans can also help determine when patients no longer have cancerous cells following treatment.

MRI is used to detect and monitor cancer in the following ways:

  • find a tumour
  • measure blood flow
  • measure tumours and evaluate if they are spreading over time
  • check how well treatment is working

MRI scanning is very effective for detecting tumours in the brain, soft tissues and spinal cord.

In some cases, a contrast agent is used to enhance the clarity of the images of your body’s internal structures. A contrast agent is a liquid, containing gadolinium, which is given as an injection during the MRI scan.

MRI is very safe, and does not use any radiation.

Reducing MRI stress at the open MRI

Patients who are referred for an MRI to determine if they have cancer will already be going through a traumatic time, so it’s important that the experience is as calm, effective and quick as possible. That’s why we offer fast appointments, a relaxing MRI experience and send results quickly.

  • We ensure that all patients have an appointment within just one week of receiving their referral, and often, we can complete a scan within just three days of receiving a referral.
  • Patients benefit from multiple comforts at our clinic: our open scanner is quiet, has no enclosed tube and is much wider and less claustrophobic than any other standard MRI scanner. We allow patients to have a family member or friend sit with them during their scan to provide additional comfort and distraction. Plus, our staff are trained in helping claustrophobic or anxious patients successfully complete MRI scans, and they will ensure the experience is as relaxing as possible.
  • All patients receive the results of their open MRI scan within just one week.

Macmillan Cancer Support offers a support line and can help if you are experiencing anxiety when waiting for test results. You can call or email them to get in touch with someone who understands what you’re going through and can help answer any questions you may have about the results of your MRI scan.

You can also contact us to discuss the open MRI experience and how to request a referral to Newcastle Clinic.