X-rays are more commonly used during dental treatments or to diagnose broken bones. However, with the X-ray’s ability to provide an image of suspicious alterations inside the human body, it can also help physicians diagnose illnesses such as mesothelioma as a means of determining the best treatments.
Doctors may use X-rays as the first step in diagnosing mesothelioma, a cancer of the mesothelium, or thin lining surrounding the body’s vital organs. Those X-rays can then be used to help doctors make an accurate diagnosis. Modern X-rays are safe, painless, and excellent for exploring the areas of the chest cavity where lung-related diseases reside.
X-rays can identify lung cancer and mesothelioma, determining whether the cancer is localized or widespread in the lung. Cancer cells generally show up as a lighter color on the X-ray image, making them easier to discern.
How X-Rays Work
The X-ray machine utilizes a tube aimed at the specific area the doctor wishes to examine. This tube produces the X-ray beam. Then, a quick burst of carefully measured X-rays will pass through the patient’s body and create the image, which is recorded either on film or on another special material.
The doctor, referred to as a radiologist, positions the patient’s body so that the image produced will provide the clearest information possible for diagnosis. Technicians help the radiologist to create the most detailed image possible.
As with traditional photographs, the process of taking an X-ray requires that patients stay still, holding their breath while the image is collected. However, for some types of X-rays, the process is more complicated, especially if the radiologist uses a dye to increase the contrast on the image. Most X-rays, however, are straightforward and simple.
A further benefit of X-rays is that results are instantaneous. In an emergency, the radiologist can read the images quickly and efficiently. However, for most common uses, the results are provided for the patient’s doctor several days later.
Concerns with the X-Ray Process
Although some people believe X-rays can be dangerous, the reality is that current X-ray technology uses a relatively low level of radiation, causing no harm to the patient or medical staff. Because X-rays are so important in helping to provide fast and accurate medical diagnoses, their benefits usually outweigh any possible risks. Generally, only pregnant women need consult their doctor as to any precautions surrounding an X-ray.