BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Rapid and accurate cancer staging following diagnosis underpins patient management, in particular the identification of distant metastatic disease. Current staging guidelines recommend sequential deployment of various imaging platforms such as computerised tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) which can be time and resource intensive and onerous for patients. Recent studies demonstrate that whole body magnetic resonance Imaging (WB-MRI) may stage cancer efficiently in a single visit, with potentially greater accuracy than current staging investigations. The Streamline trials aim to evaluate whether WB-MRI increases per patient detection of metastases in non-small cell lung and colorectal cancer compared to standard staging pathways.
METHODS: The Streamline trials are multicentre, non-randomised, single-arm, prospective diagnostic accuracy studies with a novel design to capture patient management decisions during staging pathways. The two trials recruit adult patients with proven or highly suspected new diagnosis of primary colorectal (Streamline C) or non-small cell lung cancer (Streamline L) referred for staging. Patients undergo WB-MRI in addition to standard staging investigations. Strict blinding protocols are enforced for those interpreting the imaging. A first major treatment decision is made by the multi-disciplinary team prior to WB-MRI revelation based on standard staging investigations only, then based on the WB-MRI and any additional tests precipitated by WB-MRI, and finally based on all available test results. The reference standard is derived by a multidisciplinary consensus panel who assess 12 months of follow-up data to adjudicate on the TNM stage at diagnosis. Health psychology assessment of patients' experiences of the cancer staging pathway will be undertaken via interviews and questionnaires. A cost (effectiveness) analysis of WB-MRI compared to standard staging pathways will be performed.
DISCUSSION: We describe a novel approach to radiologist and clinician blinding to ascertain the 'true' diagnostic accuracy of differing imaging pathways and discuss our approach to assessing the impact of WB-MRI on clinical decision making in real-time. The Streamline trials will compare WB-MRI and standard imaging pathways in the same patients, thereby informing the most accurate and efficient approach to staging.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Streamline C ISRCTN43958015 (registered 25/7/2012). Streamline L ISRCTN50436483 (registered 31/7/2012).
- Colorectal cancer
- Lung cancer
- Computed tomography
- Whole body magnetic resonance imaging
- Positron emission tomography
- Patient experience