A new way of using a CT scanner may make it possible to detect the signs of mesothelioma earlier in asbestos workers without exposing them to dangerously high levels of radiation.
As with most types of cancer, mesothelioma treatment outcomes are closely linked to early detection. Because people with mesothelioma often have no symptoms until decades after their asbestos exposure, some studies have suggested that CT scans of asbestos-exposed workers may offer a way to catch the disease earlier. But the radiation used in CT scanning carries its own cancer risks.
Now, new research suggests that a technology developed by GE Healthcare may offer a safer way to monitor these workers for signs of mesothelioma. Radiologists and occupational medical experts tested the ultra-low dose algorithm called Veo against traditional CT methods in 27 asbestos-exposed workers at a hospital in Clermont-Ferrand, France.
All of the patients in the study had pulmonary nodules, lesions on their lungs that could be precursors of cancer. Twenty participants had pleural plagues, or thickening of the pleural lining that also indicates asbestos-related damage. The method was comparable in its accuracy to current CT methods, although it was not as capable of picking up what the authors called “interstitial abnormalities”. Most importantly, the Veo approach decreased the radiation dose in the studied workers up to 87%.
“A low-dose CT with Veo reconstruction substantially reduced radiation,” reports lead author Marielle Tekath, a radiologist with University Hospital CHU G. Montpied. “Veo compared favourably with FBP [filtered back projection] in detecting pleural plaques, pleural thickening and pulmonary nodules.”
The Veo algorithm allows imaging experts to construct a detailed image of a patient’s lungs and lung lining from a CT image that was produced with ultra-low doses of radiation. Typically, an image produced with less radiation provides less diagnostic information for clinicians to work with. The authors of the new study of Veo in mesothelioma detection suggest that the results should be confirmed in a larger patient sampling.
Source: “Comparison of the ultra-low-dose Veo algorithm with the gold standard filtered back projection for detecting pulmonary asbestos-related conditions: a clinical observational study”, Tekath, Marielle et al, British Medical Journal open, published online May 30, 2014