One of the challenges presented by mesothelioma, a rare cancer almost always caused by asbestos exposure, is that it is usually diagnosed in late stages. Any cancer diagnoses in Stage III or IV is more difficult to treat and results in a poorer prognosis for the victim. But in order to achieve earlier diagnosis, screenings would need to be more aggressive and this action itself poses a risk.
The premier diagnostic tool to detect mesothelioma is the CT scan, but the test itself carries a cancer risk. CT Radiation Risk CT (computed tomography) scan are the gold standard for diagnosing many conditions because it provides a vastly more thorough glimpse inside the human body. Standard x-rays focus on one part of the body and offer a 2D image which shows bone and some musculature, but not a lot of detail.
By contrast, with a CT scan, the scanner moves around your body and generates images of slices of the body which are then consolidated by the computer into a whole body image that shows what’s going on inside. CT scans can diagnose cancer, aneurysms, trauma and a host of other conditions that inform physicians on how best to treat the patient. On the flip side, compared to a standard x-ray, a CT scan exposes the body to 50 to 250 times more radiation. But is this level of radiation dangerous, and if so, do the benefits outweigh the risks?
A study out of Columbia University found that radiation from a CT scan is equivalent to the lowest dose of radiation resulting from the nuclear bombings of Japan in World War II. A Better, Lower Risk CT The radiation risk sounds frightening and should be taken seriously. The same study asserts that 1.5% to 2% of all cancers are caused by CT scans. But without this tool, many other cancers would go undetected or detected at later stages, preventing oncologists from having the time required to fight off the deadly disease. With mesothelioma, because it gestates over decades then advances aggressively in late stages, earlier diagnosis is critical to prolonging life.
Veo Scan New Method of Mesothelioma Detection
To help lower these risks, GE Healthcare has developed a new, lower dose CT scan called Veo. In short, the Veo algorithm is available to glean the same, or better, information as the standard CT but with lower dose radiation by reducing “noise” which looks like snowy areas on scans. The upshot is that if the tech proves out, the radiation risk from CT can be greatly reduced.
Veo Scans and Mesothelioma Patients
Researchers in France at the Montpied University Hospital have been testing the new GE Veo protocol specifically on mesothelioma patients.
The test group was 27 workers who had been exposed to asbestos and were ill. All had symptoms which included pulmonary nodules, pleural plaques and pleural thickening. Veo was able to successfully detect most conditions as readily as standard CT. The only difference was in detected interstitial abnormalities – the interstitial area is the tissue and space around the air sacs of the lungs. For asbestos exposure victims, this is usually a sign of asbestosis rather than mesothelioma. The study concluded that Veo was comparable to standard CT in diagnosing asbestos illnesses and, very importantly, reduced radiation by up to 87%. These are very encouraging findings.
If you’re a victim of asbestos exposure and are in the diagnostic process and are concerned about radiation risk, you should know that Veo CT machines are available in the Seattle area. The University of Washington Medical Center offers Veo. Ask your physician for a radiologic facility that has Veo if you’re interested in this less risky CT procedure.
Bergman Draper Oslund represents asbestos victims and has been a mesothelioma-only practice for nearly two decades. We fight for victims’ rights and are ready to help you now.
Claim My Free Case Evaluation Today