Small cell lung cancer: staging with MR imaging

Radiology. 1990 Dec;177(3):837-42. doi: 10.1148/radiology.177.3.2173844.


Small cell lung cancer is an aggressive neoplasm; metastases are detected in two-thirds of patients at diagnosis with use of conventional staging, which includes bilateral bone marrow biopsy, bone scintigraphy, and computed tomography (CT) of the head and abdomen. In 25 patients, small cell lung cancer was staged prospectively with both conventional staging and a magnetic resonance (MR) imaging protocol that included 1.5-T MR imaging of the pelvis, abdomen, spine, and brain. According to conventional staging, 14 patients had extensive disease and 11 patients had limited disease; according to staging with MR, 19 patients had extensive disease and six had limited disease. All metastatic disease sites seen with conventional staging were identified on MR images. MR images showed additional metastatic involvement in bone (four patients) and liver (three patients) not detected at conventional staging. A low-attenuation hepatic lesion on a CT scan was identified as a hemangioma on MR images. These preliminary data suggest that small cell lung cancer may be accurately staged with use of a single MR imaging study.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / pathology*
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Photoreceptor Cells / parasitology