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Health Care Advocates Face Challenges When Battle Mesothelioma

Physicians and health care advocates face multiple challenges when it comes to treating malignant mesothelioma. They are already working against time when the disease is diagnosed because of its long latency period: the cancer is generally in an advanced stage by the time that its symptoms first appear, making treatment difficult. Add to that the inability to accurately stage the cancer in order to determine what the appropriate protocols and therapies are, and doctors find themselves extremely frustrated. Though there are a number of advanced technologies at their disposal, many have expressed the opinion that they do not provide enough information.

One of the tools that mesothelioma doctors rely upon is diagnostic imaging, and specifically the use of Positron Emission Tomography, or PET scans, and CT scans. PET is a nuclear medicine technique that provides a three dimensional image of the various processes that are taking place in the body at the moment that the scan is taken, while CT scans provide cross-sectional images of the body’s various structures. Looking at the two together is thought to give a snapshot of exactly what is going on within the body and where tumors are located, as well as to offer a real time perspective of how large they have down. But a recent study by cancer researchers from the Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at the University Hospital of Zurich has called into question the accuracy and usefulness of these tests. The Swiss scientists have concluded tests that revealed significant insufficiencies in the data that these diagnostic tests provide, as well as a need for better capabilities.

In order to assess the usefulness of PET and CT scans in determining the extent of patients’ mesothelioma tumors, the Swiss researchers analyzed the patient records of over five dozen mesothelioma victims who had been diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. All of the patients were being treated with chemotherapy in preparation for surgery. Some had CT scans done in order to identify the extend of the tumors’ advance, while some had both PET and CT done. Following the patients’ extra pleural pneumonectomy procedures their tumors were analyzed to determine their stage. The results showed that when compared to the results provided by the CT scan, as well as the combination of PET and CT, both underestimated the disease’s spread. Though the combination diagnostic test was more accurate than CT alone, the researchers believe that it is necessary to design a diagnostic tool that will provide better and more accurate information in order to provide patients with the best possible treatment.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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