What Scans For Cancer Do Doctors Recommend?
Early diagnostic approaches to cancer have improved dramatically over the last few decades. Medical science gave us various imaging methods to pinpoint cancerous growth and look for its spread at the earliest, thereby framing an early treatment course.
Your doctor recommends imaging tests for cancer based on certain factors. The location and type of cancer are crucial factors in this regard! Different imaging tests have different accuracy rates for different cancer types and locations. However, these are not always the most accurate scans. They may not always remain available to us or applicable to our particular physical condition. At that time, doctors go for a nearly-accurate alternative!
Here, we are; to discuss the different scans your doctor may prefer for cancer diagnosis in diverse situations. Ready to dive in?
Mammograms or Contrast-Enhanced Mammograms: For Breast Cancers, Mostly!
Mammograms (Mammography) are special kinds of X-rays, the advanced ones using low radiation dosage to generate different angled images of your internal anatomy! It is a non-invasive and painless process, conducted outpatient within 20 to 30 minutes.
Doctors recommend mammograms mainly for breast cancers. Mammograms are known for identifying microcalcifications in your breast tissues, subsequently confirming the existence of cancers even before they get felt.
Your doctor is likely to go for a contrast-enhanced mammogram to fetch greater clarity on the picture. Perhaps, as per data, administering contrast dye during mammography ensures 89% sensitivity in early breast cancer diagnosis, while a standard mammogram has 87%.
Contrast-enhanced mammograms (CEMs) are undoubtedly beneficial for women having dense breasts. According to the National Institute For Biotechnology Information (NCBI), this state-of-the-art technique, CEM, retains 71.5 to 92.7% sensitivity in screening cancers for women with dense breasts. Their studies also reveal that the Contrast-enhanced Mammogram has a 93% cancer detection rate!
The Preliminary CT Scans: Contrast-Enhanced or Low-Dose!
CT, or Computed Tomography, is the most common and primary scanning modality doctors recommend for cancer diagnosis. CT scans are nothing but a series of X-ray beams situated at different angles that create two-dimensional cross-sectional images on the computer screen. They are quick and painless, but they do leave room for radiation exposure and hence do not apply to children or pregnant women.
A CT scan can locate diverse cancer types, from breast, prostate, and colorectal to lung and bone cancers. Your doctor may recommend this scan to see the spread (or metastasis) and evaluate the cancer stage. Your doctor may recommend a CT to monitor the needle in a biopsy or check the response to chemotherapy or radiation therapy – The cancer treatments!
CT scans are salient in the case of lung cancer screening. Records show that these scans can detect lung cancers at their early stage about 70% of the time! A contrast-enhanced traditional CT (CECT) is the most plausible technique that your doctor may rest on. Moreover, CECT is about 86.76% accurate in identifying cancers in the glandular tissues of your lungs.
On the same note, Low-Dose CTs are quite prevalent for lung cancer studies today, as you lay exposed to 90% less radiation during this scan.
Medical experts state that CTs are efficient in diagnosing bone cancers too! Surveys show that a CT holds 75.9% accuracy in screening cancers of the bones. They are nearly 74% accurate in finding out metastasis from the bones.
Ultrasound: The Risk-Free Preliminary Alternative!
Ultrasound is a safer alternative for patients who cannot get a CT as it involves no radiation but sound energy to create real-time images. An ultrasound is sometimes partially invasive and otherwise non-invasive, depending on the area of assessment! Ultrasounds are common recommendations for prostate cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, thyroid cancer, and so forth!
Perhaps, ultrasounds are almost equally accurate to CTs in detecting cancerous lesions, with about 98.1% sensitivity, approximately.
Your doctor may ask for an ultrasound to guide the needle in a biopsy. Your doctor may also use it as a part of your follow-up check-up after your cancer treatment to spot left-over cancerous scar tissues or recurring cancerous growth.
While ultrasounds can detect ovarian cancers with 75% effectiveness, they are more sensitive and specific to gastric or stomach cancers. According to studies, ultrasounds are 92.5% sensitive and 92.2% specific in diagnosing stomach cancers. In the case of breast cancers, they are 89.2% sensitive.
PET Scan or PET/CT Scans: Known For Improving Diagnostic Accuracy!
The nuclear imaging test that looks into the cellular metabolic activities of a specific body part to find whether cancer exists is what we call a PET Scan. This method uses radioactive tracers to screen your biochemical functions. It is non-invasive and requires no hospital stay.
Doctors recommend PET scans for thyroid cancers, lung cancer, breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, etc. During the scan, if the body cells utilize more energy than it normally does, cancerous presence is what it indicates!
PET scans are also a significant diagnostic technique to detect lymphomas, the cancer type occurring in the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland, and bone marrow. Studies reveal that PET scans are about 90% specific and 80% sensitive in screening lymphomas.
In the last few years, the use of PET modality alongside a CT has become more common. It is because such a process can help provide an integrated data set in cancer screening, whether for the location and type of spread and stage. PET/CT is not only more efficient in diagnosing cancers than PET or CT alone. But it also outperforms MRI in a few cases, like staging and post-treatment monitoring of skin cancer.
PET/CT scans are about 94% sensitive in thyroid cancer detection. They can also help doctors restage recurrent cancer in your thyroid.
MRI Scans For Cancer Screening; The Best Option!
The invention of Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI has made gold-standard cancer diagnosis possible on the face of this earth. Even if the cancers hide within the deeper areas of your body, like the soft tissues, an MRI can expose them. An MRI is a process involving magnetic fields to generate cross-sectional visuals, and it leaves no room for radiation risks.
MRI is the most reliable method to diagnose cancers of your brain tissues and of the spine. In a study by the National Institutes of Health, an MRI is 94.8% accurate in pinpointing a brain tumor that’s malignant. And it’s 87.01% accurate in overall brain cancer diagnosis. Similarly, many research studies state that an MRI is efficient in diagnosing spine cancers in 29 out of 30 cases.
MRI scan is likewise the most viable pick concerning what scan for cancer serves best for diagnosing metastasis to the bone marrow. Doctors even opt for MRI to screen liver cancers, as they are the most effective method, precisely holding a 96.77% accuracy rate!
Besides, your doctor recommends MRIs for esophageal cancers, pancreatic cancers, bladder cancers, lung cancers, and myriad more categories.
However, in the case of breast or prostate cancer, your doctor is likely to recommend a full-body scan to detect cancer metastasis at its earliest.
MRIs may not be a favorable choice for bone or blood cancers. They take a longer time to create precise and detailed pictures. They are costly, and not everyone can afford them. Claustrophobia inside the semi-circular tube-like MRI machine leaves a red alert! You can ask for earplugs, use blankets, and close your eyes during the scan to eliminate anxiety.
Thus, it is evident that what scan for cancer your doctor recommends depends on a balance between the risks and benefits of a particular scanning modality for cancer detection. Your doctor may even recommend a PET/MRI scan to ensure greater clarity on the localization of cancerous lesions and their staging.
Whether your doctor recommends an MRI scan or an MRI combined with a PET scan for cancer diagnosis and treatment, MRI Chandigarh can help you book a discounted one. But only if you are in Chandigarh! We can connect you to the best diagnostic centers in Chandigarh and provide online reports via email or WhatsApp.