Funding to compare imaging modalities for liver cancer detection

Bournemouth University researchers at the Institute of Medical Imaging and Visualisation (IMIV) will contribute to a new national study evaluating non-contrast-enhanced MRI and comparing it to standard of care ultrasound in a cohort of patients under surveillance for liver cancer.

Researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Nottingham, Bournemouth and Glasgow Caledonian will lead the £2.2 million AMULET clinical study into the use of a new imaging technique for surveillance of liver cancer in patients with cirrhosis. The study is funded by the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme, a partnership between the National Institute for Health and Care Research and the Medical Research Council. The team will compare non-contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to the standard of care ultrasound to assess which imaging technique is better for diagnosing liver cancer earlier.

The study is led by Dr Michael Pavlides (study chief investigator, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford) and Professor Susan Francis (study lead technical investigator, University of Nottingham). Associate Professor Jamie Franklin, Head of the IMIV, is a co-investigator on the project and the study lead radiologist.

Liver cancer incidence is increasing in the UK. The earlier that liver cancer is detected, the more likely that treatment will be successful. Currently we use ultrasound to detect liver cancer, but liver ultrasound has poor sensitivity in some patients meaning that early liver cancers can be missed. MRI is not routinely used for liver cancer surveillance. The study team are developing a shorter non-contrast-enhanced MRI protocol, as an alternative to ultrasound and contrast-enhanced MRI, with the aim of using it for more sensitive surveillance.

Dr Franklin said: “This is an important and timely project. We need more accurate, cost-effective tools to detect liver cancer at an early stage, which gives us the best chance of successful treatment. We’re excited to be working with the research team to deliver this study, which we hope will benefit patients in the future.”

The AMULET project will build on the University of Oxford’s DeLIVER programme (funded by Cancer Research UK). For more information about the DeLIVER early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma research programme, please visit the DeLIVER website: