What is a CT scan?
Through computer processing, cross-sectional images (slices) of the bones, blood arteries, and soft tissues inside your body, images form during a computerized tomography (CT) scan, which combines a number of X-ray images collected from various angles all over your body. Images from a Computed Tomography scan offer more information than an X-ray would.
There are various applications for a CT scan, but it is especially useful for immediately examining patients who may have internal damage from automobile accidents or other types of trauma. Nearly every region of the body may be visible using a Computed Tomography scan, which is also useful to plan medical, surgical, or radiation treatments as well as detect diseases and injuries.
What can a CT scan show?
A CT scan can reveal whether you have a tumor as well as its location and size if you do. The blood arteries feeding the tumor are also visible on CT scans. These images could be of use to your medical team to determine whether the cancer has progressed to your liver or other organs, such the lungs. The pictures are in monochrome.
It’s significant to remember that a CT scan might miss some tumors. For a number of factors, including location and human mistake, lessons could be missed. However, a CT scan is more accurate than a standard X-ray.
Using a CT scan, lesions as small as 2-3 mm can be visible. The tumor’s location, nevertheless, might have an impact on how big it becomes before becoming apparent.
When compared to conventional X-rays, CT scans can reveal additional details regarding the size and potential danger of suspicious nodules. When combined with a contrast injection, they can be extremely beneficial. Some tissues are more noticeable due to contrast. On the scan, cancer cells look white because they absorb the contrast. Your radiologist will then be able to more accurately analyze the images, which is crucial for reaching a diagnosis. Additionally, the tissues surrounding a possibly malignant tumor, including adjacent organs, will be easier for him or her to see.
The choice of treatment may also be assisted by a CT scan with contrast. For instance, employing contrast can assist in determining whether the malignancy can be surgically removed.
Can a CT scan detect cancer?
A CT scan can assist identify a mass and pinpoint its location and size, but it cannot diagnose cancer, like any imaging technology. Only a pathology study of tissue under a microscope after a biopsy can conclusively verify a cancer diagnosis, but a CT scan may still provide useful information about the mass, such as its shape and potential makeup (e.g., solid vs. liquid), that implies the mass may be cancerous.
Why is a CT scan used for cancer?
In the detection and management of cancer, CT scans have many diverse functions.
Screening: CT is occasionally used to check for several cancers, including lung and colorectal cancer.
Diagnosis: To find and measure suspicious tumors, your doctor could request a CT scan. It might also assist in figuring out whether a tumor has returned.
Planning and treatment advice: Your doctor may use a CT scan to locate and identify the tissue that requires a biopsy. Additionally, it can be used to plan surgery or external-beam radiation, as well as therapies like cryotherapy, microwave ablation, and the insertion of radioactive seeds.
Response to treatment: In order to determine how well a tumour is responding to treatment, doctors occasionally conduct a scan.
Tools for monitoring other diseases: CT scans are a useful tool for checking for other disorders, including some that may or may not be connected to cancer, like:
- Abnormal brain function
- Coronary artery disease
- Blood vessel aneurysms
- Blood clots
- Bone fractures
- Emphysema or pneumonia
- Kidney and bladder stones
- Inflammatory diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and sinusitis
- Injuries to your head or internal organs
How frequently you need to get CT follow-up will depend on your treatment and kind of cancer. For instance, it is advised that patients with colorectal cancer who are receiving surgical treatment undergo two CT scans during the first three years. Doctors advise getting a low-dose CT scan every year to check for lung cancer if you’re 55 to 74 years old and have a history of smoking an average of a pack per day for 30 years (even if you quit in the last 15 years).
Reasons to get a CT scan to detect cancer
Despite decades of research, many cancer forms are still difficult to detect with a routine blood test or X-ray. For instance, kidney cancer is the eighth most common new cancer found in women and the sixth most common new cancer found in men, yet it frequently doesn’t show any symptoms until it has advanced to a more serious stage or spread to other organs.
Kinds of cancer that a CT scan can detect
Mammograms used for screening have the ability to find breast cancer. Colonoscopies are able to identify and stop colon cancer. However, not all cancers have a regular screening test, particularly if you have a disease that is more difficult to find. A CT scan for cancer can help with that.
When doctors need to determine how far a cancer has progressed or the location of a tumour, a CT scan and other forms of sophisticated imaging, such as an MRI, are standard components of cancer diagnosis and treatment across the board.
CT scans of the abdomen can reveal signs of:
- Bladder cancer
- Colorectal cancer, especially if it’s located further up in the intestines or bowel
- Kidney cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Stomach cancer
Would a diagnostic Computed Tomography scan be useful for you?
A diagnostic abdominal CT scan might give you the information you need if you have a family history of a particular cancer or if other variables indicate that you are at a higher risk than the average person.
You should see your doctor to determine whether a CT scan is appropriate for you if you are pregnant or attempting to get pregnant because every CT scans exposes patients to a small amount of radiation.