Researchers have developed a new radiation-free way to scan children for signs of cancer's spread, Newsmax Health reports.
The approach, however, has been tested only in a few patients, and pediatric radiologists say it's not ready for prime time just yet.
Still, the study findings are encouraging, said lead author Dr. Heike Daldrup-Link, an associate professor in the department of radiology at the Stanford School of Medicine's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.
The alternative method allows radiologists to scan for tumors without using any radiation. Instead, they used MRI scans in conjunction with a "contrast agent" -- a kind of iron supplement -- that helps them better see the insides of the body.
In the study, the researchers scanned 22 patients aged 8 to 33 who had malignant tumors known as lymphomas and sarcomas. The researchers found similar numbers of tumors by using the new MRI approach (158 tumors) and a traditional radiation scanning approach that combines PET and CT (163 tumors).
The costs for the two kinds of scans are similar, said Daldrup-Link.
More research is needed now to discover how the treatment works in older adults. Physicians are beginning a study of the scanning technique in at least six major children's hospitals throughout the country, Daldrup-Link said.