What Is The Best Scan To Detect Cancer?
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is certainly one of the best scans to detect cancer. But, as they are not so easily accessible, your doctor may consider a CT (Computed Tomography) scan as the best diagnostic choice to go with, and sometimes, a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) & CT combined!
Each scanning modality has its perks and problems, and none is 100 percent accurate. Your doctor shall assess your health condition and decide which is the best scan to detect cancer in your case, following some aspects like your age, sex, medical history, symptoms, etc.
No doubt your doctor would want to fetch the clearest; and most accurate image so that an early treatment course can get initiated!
MRI Scans For Early Cancer Detection: The Top Pick By Doctors!
Often called the gold standard diagnostic technique to detect cancers, MRI is the imaging test that uses powerful magnetic fields and radio waves to produce cross-sectional images of your internal body organs and tissues. This scan can offer more clarity to imaging deeper areas, like your soft tissues. It is a safe, non-invasive, and radiation-free process conducted in radiology labs.
MRI scans can show abnormal masses and help determine whether they are cancerous. It can show the size of the cancer, its shape, precise location, and numbers. An MRI can reveal a metastasis, i.e., the spread of cancer, and thereby help doctors evaluate the cancer stage.
Doctors prefer MRI scans, especially in the case of brain and spine cancers. As per research, MRI scans have an 87.01% accuracy rate in brain cancer detection. According to NCBI (National Institute For Biotechnology Information), an MRI is nearly 93% sensitive in diagnosing spine cancers.
An MRI also plays a pivotal role in liver cancer detection and screening. It is around 96.7% accurate in this regard! In fact, the scan can detect diverse types of cancers, be it of the esophagus, prostate, uterine, or breast, be it of the cervix, pancreas, bladder, or kidney! MRI scans rule out the need for overdiagnosis and treatment. Studies note that 27% of the unnecessary biopsies conducted today can get toppled by an MRI scan.
For early cancer screening, doctors typically order whole-body MRI scans, as they can detect microcalcifications with higher accuracy. These scans are likewise essential for examining hepatic or brain metastasis. Research works tell us that full-body MRIs hold 90% accuracy in studying metastatic cancers.
CT Scans For Cancer: The Quick, Painless, and Affordable Modality!
CTs are effective imaging studies for detecting various cancer types, such as bone cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, neck cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. The methods indulge in radiation but are non-invasive in type. During the scan, several differently angled X-ray beams lay used to create the two-dimensional visuals of your internal anatomy.
CT scans can help doctors determine the stage of cancer by looking for metastasis. Studies show that CTs diagnose bone metastasis with 95% specificity and 73% sensitivity. These scans can help guide a biopsy and check how well your cancer treatment works. A CT scan can trace a recurrent cancerous growth in your body.
Doctors these days particularly opt for the low-dose CT scan to avoid the risk of high radiation dosage. These scans use almost 90% less radiation. And they are equally efficient in diagnosing lung cancers at their early stage.
Contrast-enhanced traditional CTs, however, have a threshold! Some studies in NCBI state that a CECT holds 86.76% accuracy in diagnosing cancer formed in the glandular tissues of your lungs. This specific CT technique is also crucial in detecting Bronchogenic carcinoma, a subtype of lung cancer.
CTs are similarly your doctor’s choice for colorectal cancers because their accuracy rate stands at 80 to 96%, as per a study by Science Direct. Your doctor is likely to recommend a CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis for staging colorectal cancer, typically a contrast-enhanced one. Such a diagnosis indeed stands valuable for planning surgery for your colon cancer!
PET-CT Scan: A Significant Approach to Enhance The Localization Process of Cancerous Lesions!
When it comes to what is the best scan to detect cancer at its ground level, PET-CT combined modality takes the stage to offer a rescue plan. While the PET technique assesses cellular metabolic activities or biochemical functions, the CT technique ensures anatomical picturization.
A PET-CT scan is an advanced nuclear imaging study that enables doctors to detect cancers at their early stage, especially thyroid cancer, neck cancer, lung cancer, and breast cancer. The process involves radioactive tracers to understand how much energy your body cells require. If the cells use more energy than normal, the PET technique shows that the cells are cancerous. At the same time, the CT shows how big the cancer is and where it exactly resides.
Doctors prefer this new diagnostic modality to extract an integrated dataset from both screening methods that can help improve diagnostic accuracy for cancers. Studies affirm that a PET-CT scan constitutes 89 to 97% accuracy in screening cancers, while a PET scan alone is only 74 to 85% accurate. This scan can even show if there is any remaining cancerous scar tissue after cancer treatment.
Medical professionals also prefer this scanning method for restaging advanced cancer. A PET-CT scan undoubtedly provides more detailed information about the cancers than a CT or PET alone! It, therefore, acts as a great alternative to MRI for people who have metallic implants in the body.
So, what is the best scan to detect cancer varies from one patient to another and one doctor’s recommendation to another. You have to see a doctor and follow the expert voice. Many times, your doctor may even ask for a second test too. In that case, an MRI may follow a CT or a PET-CT. Or, even a PET-CT may follow a CT!
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