Imaging Scans for Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Below are imaging scans for mesothelioma diagnosis

X-rays

Typically, the initial screening of a patient for mesothelioma is a chest or abdominal x-ray. The imaging scan may be able to show fluid that has collected around the abdomen, lung, or heart. It may also show thickening of the pleura and sometimes provide a hint that a tumor exists in the body of the patient. That said, x-rays may not have the resolution needed to help identify cancer meaning that it has limits in its ability to confirm the existence of mesothelioma in a patient.

X ray chest mesothelioma

Computed Tomography (CT)

When we talk of a CT scan, doctors use x-rays get 3D images of an individual’s body. These images tend to be more detailed compared to the ones provided by traditional x-rays. You will find that CT scans are more helpful in finding the location and characteristic of the cancer. They also help to determine the extent of mesothelioma.

CT scans may also help in determining the usefulness of surgical treatment to a patient and the effectiveness or effects of treatments like chemotherapy. Again, a CT scan in itself may not be able to offer an explicit mesothelioma diagnosis; however, a biopsy that uses CT scan to help guide the needle is able to give a clear mesothelioma diagnosis.

CT Chest for malignant mesothelioma

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

This imaging scan is able to create detailed images using radio waves as well as magnets. While MRI, just like a CT scan, cannot clearly diagnose mesothelioma, it tends to be more superior compared to the CT scan in regard to finding out if or not the cancer has spread.

A doctor may use the details provided by the MRI scan to determine if surgery is an option for removing the tumor. It is important to know that not all doctors prefer using MRI to diagnose mesothelioma and those that use it; they will in most cases combine it with CT scans so that they get complete view of the sites or cancer locations.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

These imaging scans are used to measure metabolic and functional activity in a patient’s body. The scans use radioactive glucose, which is injected into the patient’s bloodstream. PET scans measure radioactivity in a person’s body at certain areas referred to as ‘hot spots’ and these spots include the heart, brain, and the tumors in cancer patients.

If mesothelioma has already been diagnosed, PET scans may indicate hot spots that show if the cancer has spread or metastasized to other locations in the body.

PET & CT Combination

Doctors may combine Positron Emission Tomography and Computed Tomography to get a more accurate image. Combining these two imaging scans shows what is happening inside the body of a patient and in a more detailed way. For instance, CT scan may show images that show an abnormality and PET image may show if the abnormality is a ‘hot spot’ thus indicating the presence of malignancy. The PET imaging may also show if the area is of normal activity something that may suggest the tumor is benign.

References:

  1. Pathologic Diagnosis of Malignant Mesothelioma. http://www.archivesofpathology.org/doi/pdf/10.1043/1543-2165-133.8.1317?code=coap-site
  2. Diagnosis and treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3886874/

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