Why early cancer diagnosis is important, and how MRIs, CT scans, and other imaging procedures can help
Cancer is one of the most difficult diseases for individuals and families to deal with. This frightening health condition is one of the largest causes of death, and it has effected, directly or otherwise, almost every person in the country.
Despite the debilitating nature of cancer, there is hope. One of the most important elements of cancer treatment is early diagnosis, and through medical imaging and other procedures, healthcare specialists can locate the problem and deliver treatment.
But it all starts with early diagnosis…
Early diagnosis: looking at the numbers
There is little doubt among the medical community that early diagnosis of cancer, as well as other diseases and conditions, is vital to reaching a healthy outcome. This is not mere speculation, as there are numbers to support this claim.
According to Cancer Research, an organization involved in cancer funding, awareness, and information in the U.K., the importance of early diagnosis reaches across nearly every form of the disease. Lung cancer patients, for example, have a 70% chance of surviving for at least a year when the disease is diagnosed at an early stage. The percentage drops to 14% if found in the advanced stages.
Women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer have a 90% chance of surviving for at least five years, while women diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer only have a 5% chance. That is a shocking difference in survival rates.
How can medical imaging help with early diagnosis?
Medical imaging plays an important role in early detection, and in many cases, it is the first step in keeping the cancer from spreading. And it’s not just one or two imaging systems that can find signs of cancer, as CT scans, MRIs, mammograms, ultrasounds, and even x-rays can be used to detect this deadly disease.
But the job isn’t done after initial diagnosis. These important imaging systems, especially CT scans and MRIs, are used to track the cancer treatment, monitor the spread or remission of the disease, and see if the problem is located anywhere else in the body.
The reason CT scans and MRIs are used so often throughout cancer treatment is their ability to give high-quality images of soft tissue. They can be especially useful when diagnosing tumors and determining whether they are benign or malignant.
CT imaging is often the best method for diagnosing tumors in the lungs, abdomen, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and pelvis. This is due in large part to its fast speed, which minimizes disturbances caused by movements, breathing, or involuntary motion from organs.
MRIs, on the other hand, deliver excellent clarity, which makes them highly effective for finding brain tumors and searching for cancer that may have spread into another organ. They are also relied upon for finding tumors in joints and bones.
MRIs and CT scans may be more common, but other imaging techniques play an important role as well. X-ray imaging, for example, is often used in the diagnosis of lung cancer, and a mammogram is probably the most important tool for diagnosing breast cancer.
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