What Scans Are Used For Cancer?
While cancer is one of the most dreadful illnesses on the face of this earth, diagnosing them accurately is a crucial task for healthcare professionals indeed! Early cancer detection can allow medical caregivers to initiate early treatment and ensure a greater survival rate.
There exist various scanning modalities to detect and screen cancers at their early stage, and your doctor recommends one or even two, depending on several factors like –
- Location and type of the cancerous growth,
- Whether a biopsy is requisite,
- Your age, sex, and medical history,
- The balance between the benefits and risks in a particular scan,
- Expense and availability, etc.
Typically, Mammography, Computed Tomography or CT, Ultrasound, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and Positron Emission Tomography or PET scan are the modalities that pop up in the question of what scans are used for cancer screening. Doctors pick from among these scans to locate your cancer and determine its size, shape, numbers, composition, and extent of spread.
Mammography: Looking For Early Signs Of Cancer!
Mammography is the scanning modality where low-dose X-rays lay used to create two-dimensional images of your internal body structure and identify if there is a life-threatening cancerous growth. It is a quick, non-invasive, and painless process conducted in almost every healthcare center on an outpatient basis.
Mammography serves mainly in breast cancer diagnosis. This can help your doctor see microcalcifications, i.e. tiny calcium deposits, in your breast and indicate the presence of cancer even three years before it is actually felt.
Your doctor may use a contrast-enhanced mammogram to get more clarity in imaging the breast abnormality. While a standard mammogram holds about 87% sensitivity in detecting breast cancers at its early stage, a contrast-enhanced mammogram has nearly 89% sensitivity in screening the same! In fact, this method is more efficient in diagnosing cancer in women with extremely dense breasts.
Computed Tomography: The Most Prevalent Method To Detect A Wide Variety Of Cancers!
A CT Scan is the diagnostic method where myriads of X-ray beams lay used to generate cross-sectional images of your internal anatomy from various angles. CT is a fast, non-invasive process that does not require you to get admission to the hospital or clinic.
CT scans serve to determine the stage of cancer and the metastases, i.e., how far cancer has spread from its original location. CT scans can help guide a biopsy and detect cancer recurrence. Moreover, it helps medical professionals to plan a cancer treatment, such as external-beam radiation therapy or local radiofrequency ablation.
Your doctor may order a CT scan to screen lung cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, bone cancer, and so forth! These days, a low-dose CT scan is more common in use. However, your doctor may also prescribe a traditional contrast-enhanced CT scan for cancer detection.
According to research studies, CT scans detect lung cancer in its early stage for about 70% of the cases. NCBI, or National Institute For Biotechnology Information, reveals that a Ct scan is nearly 75.9% accurate in diagnosing bone cancers and holds 74% sensitivity in screening metastasis from the bones.
Despite its higher accuracy in cancer screening, your doctor may not recommend a CT scan, as it involves radiation. This is especially if you are pregnant, have some kind of allergies, or are below 18 years.
Ultrasound For Cancer Screening
When your doctor cannot use a CT or mammogram because of the radiation exposure or an MRI due to the presence of metallic implants in your body, they pursue ultrasound to screen cancer. An ultrasound is an imaging test where sound waves lay used to picture your internal body. It is a safer process, partial or non-invasive.
An ultrasound can differentiate between benign and malignant (cancerous) tumors. It can detect prostate cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer, rectum cancer, and more. An ultrasound can assist your doctor in determining the stage of lung cancer and identifying whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
As per a few studies, an ultrasound is 98.1% sensitive in detecting cancerous lesions. Studies also show that ultrasound is 89.2% sensitive in screening breast cancers! Your doctor may use an ultrasound to regulate the needle in a biopsy.
The Gold Standard MRI Scan For Cancer Detection
Magnetic Resonance Imaging is the most efficient method in cancer screening. This scanning modality can pinpoint cancers located in the deeper areas of your body. An MRI is a process where powerful magnets, in combination with computer-generated radio waves, get used to visualizing your internal body parts, especially the soft tissues.
The MRI process doesn’t indulge in radiation exposure and therefore is safer than a CT, PET, or Mammogram. It takes around 90 minutes to complete a non-invasive and painless MRI scan. However, it is expensive and may not be available everywhere.
An MRI scan is significant in diagnosing brain cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer, uterine cancer, and more. Such an accurate diagnosis even helps rule out the need for unnecessary biopsy.
The fact that an MRI can differentiate between soft tissue and a malignant mass, in contrast to other imaging tests, makes it the top pick among medical professionals for cancer detection. Studies affirm that MRI can detect 90% of all breast cancer cases and holds 87.01% accuracy in diagnosing cancers of the brain tissues.
An MRI is 93 to 100% specific in screening prostate cancers and 80 to 97% specific in examining uterine cancers. Besides, much research reveals that an MRI reserves 96.77% accuracy in evaluating liver cancers.
PET Scan: The Functional Screening For Cancer!
Positron Emission Tomography or PET scan is the imaging modality where the metabolic activities of your body cells get measured in real-time. It is an advanced nuclear imaging technique devoid of invasion and pain. A PET scan showing a higher cellular metabolism or biochemical functions in a specific area in your body indicates the existence of cancer.
Doctors specifically use PET scans to diagnose thyroid cancers, cervix cancers, esophageal cancers, brain cancers, neck cancers, prostate cancers, and lung cancers. It can help doctors evaluate the cancer stage and restage an advanced cancerous disease.
A PET scan constitutes 74 to 85% diagnostic accuracy in cancer detection and screening. But your doctor may recommend a PET scan alongside a CT as that entails 89 to 97% accuracy in diagnosing the same!
So, the bottom line is multiple methods appear in the picture when it comes to the question of what scans are used for cancer, and your doctor is the one to take the final call on it. If you have symptoms that indicate the presence of cancer in your body, make sure you see a doctor and take expert help.
If your doctor prescribes an MRI for cancer screening in Chandigarh, you can book one from our website, www.mrichandigarh.com. Here you can get discounted quotes from the best diagnostic labs in the city and book your test as per your schedule.