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Study Shows that Low-Dose CT Can Safely Aid in Mesothelioma Detection

One of the most challenging aspects of treating mesothelioma, a rare and always fatal form of cancer, is the fact that it is rarely diagnosed before it has progressed to an extremely advanced stage. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, and though its process begins as soon as a fiber of asbestos is ingested or inhaled, the cancer is so slow-moving in its earliest stages that its impact does not become outwardly apparent until it is too late.

For those who are at risk because of a known occupational or environmental exposure, waiting for those symptoms to arise is like living with a death sentence hanging over their heads, never sure when or if symptoms will appear. Patients and physicians alike have long wished for a non-invasive, safe way to check their health status early for hidden signs of the disease, and now researchers in France have come up with a way. By utilizing new CT technology created by GE Healthcare, researchers in Clermont-Ferrand, France have successfully monitored asbestos-exposed workers for indications of mesothelioma while decreasing radiation exposure by up to 87%.

A team made up of occupational medicine experts and radiologists working with an ultra-low dose algorithm tested a piece of CT equipment called Veo on a group of 27 asbestos-exposed employees.. The methodology revealed a plethora of warning signs, including pulmonary nodules in the lungs that are often early indications of cancer. It also showed that twenty of the workers had thickening of the pleural lining, another indication of possible asbestos-related disease. Though the methodology was not as accurate as full doses of CT, it was enough to be able to raise an initial alarm without having subjected the patients to the risks of radiation that are inherent with that diagnostic technique.

According to lead author Marielle Tekath of the University Hospital CHU G. Montpied, “A low-dose CT with Veo reconstruction substantially reduced radiation. Veo compared favourably with filtered back projection in detecting pleural plaques, pleural thickening and pulmonary nodules.”

By using this technology, physicians were able to create a good image of the lung and lung lining despite the fact that the radiation dosage was low. This represents a departure from other diagnostic information provided with this same low level of exposure, and offers great hope for future applications in asbestos-exposed populations.

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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