Better treatment selection and outcome for cancer patients

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Lennart Blomqvist, foto: Stefan Zimmerman

Lennart Blomqvist researches cancer imaging. His thesis on MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of rectal cancer has contributed to the widespread use of the technique that enables better treatment selection and outcome for these patients. He has also helped to develop a method for the measurement of segmental liver function using MRI.

With a better understanding of tumour spread, radiotherapy can be administered with higher precision and surgeons can operate more confidently. Lennart Blomqvist’s research concerns how MRI can help. In his doctoral thesis, he showed how MRI can be used for evaluation of rectal cancer prior to surgery. The method has since then been introduced in Sweden and many other countries, which, in combination with new therapies, has helped to reduce tumour recurrence and improve the quality of life for these patients.

“The aim of much of our research is to improve imaging and the anatomical understanding as detailed as possible to guide oncologists and surgeons,” Lennart Blomqvist says. “MRI enables us to pick out details that can’t be seen by using other imaging techniques.”

Another area of application for MRI in cancer is evaluating how patients respond to therapies. This line of inquiry has, over the years, become an increasingly important part of Lennart Blomqvist’s research.

“We are in a time when molecular imaging really is going from pure research to the clinic,” he says. “The more precise and early we can determine the efficacy of different treatments, the more able we’ll be to advise on the combinations of treatments that a particular patient needs.” 

Professor Blomqvist also researches possible areas of application for a new hybrid technique using simultaneous PET and MRI. He has also had a multidisciplinary group that has developed a method for assessing liver function with MRI – a field of research that then has attracted many other groups.

Lennart Blomqvist

Professor of Medical Radiology specialising in Oncology at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery

Lennart Blomqvist was born in Stockholm in 1960. After studying medicine at KI, he worked in the field of radiology at Karolinska Hospital – from 1992 as specialist in diagnostic radiology. Lennart Blomqvist took his PhD at KI in 1997, was made Asso-ciate Professor in 2002 and Adjunct Professor in 2008.

He was made Visiting Professor at Umeå University in 2015 and in July 2016 was appointed Head of R&D for Diagnostic Imaging and Physiology unit at Karolinska University Hospital.  Lennart Blomqvist was appointed Professor of Medical Radiology specialising in Oncology at Karolinska Institutet in combination with the position of consultant at Karolinska University Hospital on 1 April 2016.

Text: Anders Nilsson, translated from Swedish, first published in “From Cell to Society” 2017.

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