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E xploratory study of using M agnetic resonance P rognostic I maging markers for R adiotherapy I n C ervix cancer (EMPIRIC): a prospective cohort study protocol.

BMJ Open 2024 April 19
INTRODUCTION: Radical chemoradiotherapy represents the gold standard for locally advanced cervical cancer. However, despite significant progress in improving local tumour control, distant relapse continues to impact overall survival. The development of predictive and prognostic biomarkers is consequently important to risk-stratify patients and identify populations at higher risk of poorer treatment response and survival outcomes. Exploratory study of using Magnetic resonance Prognostic Imaging markers for Radiotherapy In Cervix cancer (EMPIRIC) is a prospective exploratory cohort study, which aims to investigate the role of multiparametric functional MRI (fMRI) using diffusion-weighed imaging (DWI), dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) and blood oxygen level-dependent imaging (BOLD) MRI to assess treatment response and predict outcomes in patients undergoing radical chemoradiotherapy for cervical cancer.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The study aims to recruit 40 patients across a single-centre over 2 years. Patients undergo multiparametric fMRI (DWI, DCE and BOLD-MRI) at three time points: before, during and at the completion of external beam radiotherapy. Tissue and liquid biopsies are collected at diagnosis and post-treatment to identify potential biomarker correlates against fMRI. The primary outcome is to evaluate sensitivity and specificity of quantitative parameters derived from fMRI as predictors of progression-free survival at 2 years following radical chemoradiotherapy for cervical cancer. The secondary outcome is to investigate the roles of fMRI as predictors of overall survival at 2 years and tumour volume reduction across treatment. Statistical analyses using regression models and survival analyses are employed to evaluate the relationships between the derived parameters, treatment response and clinical outcomes.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The EMPIRIC study received ethical approval from the NHS Health Research Authority (HRA) on 14 February 2022 (protocol number RD2021-29). Confidentiality and data protection measures are strictly adhered to throughout the study. The findings of this study will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and scientific conferences, aiming to contribute to the growing body of evidence on the use of multiparametric MRI in cervical cancer management.


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