The role of MRI in the evaluation of cervical cancer

The authors of this review analysed articles published between 1990 and 2016 to assess the value of advanced MRI techniques in cervical cancer.




Teaching points:

  • Conventional MRI plays a key role in the evaluation of cervical cancer.
  • DWI improves tumour delineation and detection of nodal metastases in cervical cancer.
  • Advanced MRI techniques show promise regarding histological grading and subtype differentiation.
  • Tumour ADC is a potential biomarker for response to treatment.


To assess the value of new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques in cervical cancer.

We searched PubMed and MEDLINE and reviewed articles published from 1990 to 2016 to identify studies that used MRI techniques, such as diffusion weighted imaging (DWI), intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) and dynamic contrast enhancement (DCE) MRI, to assess parametric invasion, to detect lymph node metastases, tumour subtype and grading, and to detect and predict tumour recurrence.

Seventy-nine studies were included. The additional use of DWI improved the accuracy and sensitivity of the evaluation of parametrial extension. Most studies reported improved detection of nodal metastases. Functional MRI techniques have the potential to assess tumour subtypes and tumour grade differentiation, and they showed additional value in detecting and predicting treatment response. Limitations included a lack of technical standardisation, which limits reproducibility.

New advanced MRI techniques allow improved analysis of tumour biology and the tumour microenvironment. They can improve TNM staging and show promise for tumour classification and for assessing the risk of tumour recurrence. They may be helpful for developing optimised and personalised therapy for patients with cervical cancer.


Dappa, E., Elger, T., Hasenburg, A. et al. Insights Imaging (2017) 8: 471.