Since publication of the Radiologic Diagnostic Oncology Group Report in 1991, the clinical application of pulmonary magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to patients with lung cancer has been limited. Computed tomography has been much more widely available for staging of lung cancer in clinical situations. Currently, ventilation and perfusion scintigraphy is the only modality that demonstrates pulmonary function while 2-[fluorine-18]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose positron emission tomography is the only modality that reveals biological glucose metabolism of lung cancer. However, recent advancements in MR imaging have made it possible to evaluate morphological and functional information in lung cancer patients more accurately and quantitatively. Pulmonary MR imaging may hold significant potential to substitute for nuclear medicine examinations. In this review, we describe recent advances in MR imaging of lung cancer, focusing on (1) characterization of solitary pulmonary nodules; (2) differentiation from secondary change; evaluation of (3) medastinal invasion, (4) chest wall invasion, (5) lymph node metastasis, and (6) distant metastasis; and (7) pulmonary functional imaging. We believe that further basic studies, as well as clinical applications of newer MR techniques, will play an important role in the management of patients with lung cancer.
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