A study looking at PET-MRI scans for people with head and neck cancer

Cancer type:

Head and neck cancers
Laryngeal cancer
Mouth (oral) cancer
Pharyngeal cancer





This study used a combined PET and MRI scan to help plan radiotherapy for people with head and neck cancer. It was for people with squamous cell carcinoma of their mouth or throat.

The study was open for people to join between 2016 and 2018. The research team presented the results at a conference in 2018.

More about this trial

Doctors often treat head and neck cancers with radiotherapy.

When this trial was done, people usually had a CT scan before they had radiotherapy. This was to show the size and position of the cancer. It helps doctors plan the area to treat and the dose of radiotherapy to use.

In this study, researchers looked at using PET-MRI scans as well as CT scans. They hoped these scans would give clearer pictures so doctors could plan radiotherapy even more accurately.

When people have radiotherapy for head and neck cancer, they wear a specially made plastic mask that is moulded to the shape of their head. This is sometimes called a shell. It is to help them stay still during treatment, so the radiotherapy treats the exact area of cancer. 

The research team wanted to find out what people thought about having a PET-MRI scan while wearing their radiotherapy mask.

The main aims of this study were to find out:  

  • the best way to do a combined PET and MRI scan (the scanning protocol)
  • if it is possible for people to have a PET-MRI scan with a radiotherapy mask on

Summary of results

This study was for people with advanced head and neck cancer who were due to have radiotherapy. They had PET-MRI scans before and during their course of radiotherapy.

A total of 6 people took part. 

The research team found that PET-MRI scans could be useful to help plan radiotherapy for people with head and neck cancer. And that they could be done in 30 minutes or less. Most people found it ok to have a scan while they had their radiotherapy mask on.

More detailed information
There is more information about this research in the link below. 

Please note, this article is not in plain English. It was written for the health care professionals and researchers.

Clinical Evaluation of attenuation correction in FDG-PET/MRI in a head and neck radiotherapy setup
A Michaelidou and others
Radiotherapy and Oncology. Volume 127, supplement 1, S645.

Where this information comes from    
We have based this summary on the information in the article above. This has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. We have not analysed the data ourselves. As far as we are aware, the link above is active and the article is free and available to view.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Teresa Guerrero Urbano

Supported by

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
King’s College London

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

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