A study using MRI scan to see how well chemotherapy is working in people with bowel cancer

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer
Colon cancer
Rectal cancer





This study looked at a type of MRI scan to see how well chemotherapy worked for people with bowel (colorectal) cancer.

More about this trial

Doctors can treat bowel cancer with chemotherapy. They use CT scans to find out how well the chemotherapy is working. They also use PET scans to find out if the cancer has spread.

The researchers think a new type of MRI scan, called a DW MRI scan, may work just as well at finding out about both of these.

The aim of this study is to find out how good the DW MRI scan is at finding out how well chemotherapy is working and if bowel cancer has spread.

Summary of results

The study team found that it was possible to use the DW MRI scan to predict if bowel cancer might spread after chemotherapy. 
This study was open for people to join between 2013 and 2016. These results were published in 2018. 
About this study
As a part of their routine care everyone had a CT scan after they had finished all their chemotherapy treatment.  
16 people joined the study. Everyone had a DW MRI scan:
  • before starting chemotherapy
  • after 1 chemotherapy treatment (between 10 days and 12 days after starting)
The study team used the results of the routine CT scans at the end of treatment to put the people into 2 groups. Those whose:
  • cancer hadn’t got worse
  • cancer had got worse
The team compared the 2 DW MRI scans of each person. 
Of the 16 people, 4 people were unable to have the DW MRI scans. For another person the team didn’t have the information to be able to put them into a group. 
There were 8 people in the group whose cancer didn’t get worse and 3 people in the group whose cancer did get worse. 
The team looked at certain features of their DW MRI scans. They compared the changes of each feature on the scan:
  • before treatment
  • after 1 treatment 
They found there was a high possibility that the DW MRI scan could correctly predict if the cancer would get worse. 
The team concluded these early results show the DW MRI scan could be used early in chemotherapy to predict whose cancer might get worse. This can now be tested as part of large clinical trials. 
Where this information comes from
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

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 Rohini Sharma

Supported by

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Imperial College London
Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine
Medical Research Council (MRC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

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.

Last reviewed:

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