According to researchers at the National Cancer Institute, rapid whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is “a feasible strategy for detecting early-stage disease” in patients with Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS). This is because whole-body scans can identify cancerous cells even before symptoms surface. These early scans may also serve as baselines should continuous evaluations be needed.
What is Li-Fraumeni Syndrome?
Li-Fraumeni is a rare syndrome that genetically predisposes people to cancer. While inheriting this does not automatically mean one will get the disease, LFS does leave a person with a 90% chance of developing it.
A person with classic LFS would have all of the following:
- A tumor in the bone or soft tissue before age 45
- A first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) diagnosed with cancer at 45 years old or younger
- A first- or second-degree relative (e.g. grandparent, aunt/uncle) diagnosed with cancer, or with a bone or soft tissue tumor at any age
Many families with LFS have a mutation in their TP53 gene, which prevents that gene from functioning properly. This mutation makes them particularly susceptible to cancer in the bones, soft tissues, breasts, and brain. Malignant cells have also been known to originate in the kidney, blood, stomach, sex organs, and lungs. It is estimated that half of all possible cancers can be diagnosed before a person with LFS turns 30 years old.
How else can MRIs help?
Studies suggest that an intensive screening plan – whereby patients undergo regular tests within a year – can improve the survival rates of people with a TP53 mutation. At the very least, it might increase their survival times.
Aside from rapid, whole-body scans, brain MRIs have also been considered a helpful tool in cancer surveillance and prevention. Much is still to be understood about how such evaluations can minimize or even mitigate risk for the disease, but people with LFS nonetheless report that regular screenings give them psychological rewards.
Establishing Links Between Germline Mutations and Oncogenesis, CancerTherapyAdvisor.com
Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, Cancer.net