The emerging potential of magnetic resonance imaging in personalizing radiotherapy for head and neck cancer: an oncologist's perspective.
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Head and neck cancer (HNC) is a challenging tumour site for radiotherapy delivery owing to its complex anatomy and proximity to organs at risk (OARs) such as the spinal cord and optic apparatus. Despite significant advances in radiotherapy planning techniques, radiation-induced morbidities remain substantial. Further improvement would require high-quality imaging and tailored radiotherapy based on intratreatment response. For these reasons, the use of MRI in radiotherapy planning for HNC is rapidly gaining popularity. MRI provides superior soft-tissue contrast in comparison with CT, allowing better definition of the tumour and OARs. The lack of additional radiation exposure is another attractive feature for intratreatment monitoring. In addition, advanced MRI techniques such as diffusion-weighted, dynamic contrast-enhanced and intrinsic susceptibility-weighted MRI techniques are capable of characterizing tumour biology further by providing quantitative functional parameters such as tissue cellularity, vascular permeability/perfusion and hypoxia. These functional parameters are known to have radiobiological relevance, which potentially could guide treatment adaptation based on their changes prior to or during radiotherapy. In this article, we first present an overview of the applications of anatomical MRI sequences in head and neck radiotherapy, followed by the potentials and limitations of functional MRI sequences in personalizing therapy.
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Head and Neck Neoplasms
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted
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Br J Radiol, 2017, 90 (1071), pp. 20160768 - ?