Mesothelioma researchers are making considerable strides with regard to understanding the disease process of this cancer. Diagnostic procedures play a prominent role in the treatment of mesothelioma and other asbestos related pulmonary disorders. The more a doctor or surgeon can learn about how the patient’s disease is progressing, the better equipped the medical professional is to choose an appropriate course of treatments. Radiography and nuclear medicine have come a long way since their inception many years ago, and there are currently a wide variety of diagnostic procedures in this network of procedures that are helpful for those suffering from mesothelioma.
One such method of diagnosis is called a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. This procedure is a nuclear medicine imaging process that provides a series of three-dimensional photographs of a patient’s diseased areas. A tracer, a liquid which will show up on an x-ray, is ingested by the patient and this substance releases positrons, which in turn create three-dimensional spaces. More advanced than x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans, PET scans provide critical details about the affected tissue’s function.
Why Use PET Scans
A PET scan can help determine which treatment options will be most beneficial. This test is also tremendously helpful in determining whether treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy are having a positive effect on the patient’s cancer, as tissue changes will be reflected in the scan. PET is especially useful for staging mesothelioma cancer because it can pinpoint the exact advancement of the malignancies. If the test indicates that the surrounding tissue is affected, the PET scan will provide an image of how far the malignancy has metastasized (spread).
A PET scan is ideal for use as a diagnostic device for pleural as well as abdominal mesothelioma. This is due to the details provided in the images of the peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen) and the pleura (the lining of the lung). These areas are highlighted in order to produce a contrast to the patient’s normal, healthy tissue.
CT and PET Scans
A PET-CT is a scan that uses the tissue evaluation feature of PET combined with a computed tomography (CT) extensive imaging function. In patients whose mesothelioma is in an advanced stage, this hybrid procedure may act as a critical tool in the evaluation of cancer that has reached an end-stage.
Advancements are continually being made with regard to mesothelioma, and with the aforementioned diagnostic tools, patients recently diagnosed with mesothelioma may receive a more favorable prognosis than those who were diagnosed several years prior.