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Mesothelioma Diagnosis: CT Index May Make it Easier

1615325_ct scanCT images of peritoneal mesothelioma have some distinct differences from images of other types of cancer, making CT a valuable way to help diagnose the asbestos-linked malignancy and plan appropriate treatment.

A group of Japanese researchers recently set out to explore exactly how malignant peritoneal mesothelioma (MPM) differs from other cancers on CT.

Their goal was not only to list the differences but to create a malignant pleural mesothelioma CT index that could be used as a guide for diagnosing the disease earlier.

Early Detection of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Like other types of cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma survival is largely dependent on early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Mesothelioma, which is most often caused by exposure to asbestos, can take decades to develop. Unfortunately, by the time many patients begin to notice symptoms such as abdominal pain or changes in weight and appetite, their mesothelioma may already be in an advanced stage.

CT Imaging for Mesothelioma Diagnosis

CT Imaging, an X-ray based imaging modality, is one of the most popular ways of diagnosing mesothelioma, but it is not a simple task since many abdominal cancers share similar characteristics.

To help doctors distinguish mesothelioma from other types of cancer, researchers in Okayama, Japan compiled CT images from 43 patients (29 men and 14 women) who had died of peritoneal mesothelioma.

Physicians, pathologists, and a radiologist then carefully compared the CT images from the malignant peritoneal mesothelioma group with images from people who had died of non-mesothelioma cancers.

How Mesothelioma Looks Different

The team found several distinct differences in the mesothelioma CT images that could be used to distinguish them from other cancers.

“Among MPM cases, the incidences of multiple tumor masses, intestinal wall thickening and pleural plaque were significantly higher than non-MPM cases,” writes radiologist K. Kato of Okayama University Hospital.

The team also found a greater amount of ascites (fluid that causes abdominal swelling) in the mesothelioma patients than in those who died of other causes.

A Diagnostic Index for Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The research team used their compiled findings to calculate what they call an MPM-CT index, designed to help clinicians quickly evaluate whether or not a patient is likely to have mesothelioma.

When they applied the Index to actual cases, they found it to be a highly accurate and potentially useful filter.

“There was significant different between MPM-CT Index of the MPM cases and the non-MPM cases,” conclude Dr. Kato and colleagues. “The cases that showed MPM-CT Index four points or more were all MPM cases.”

A detailed summary of their findings was recently published in Anticancer Research.


Kato, K, et al, “Computed Tomographic Features of Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma”, March 2016, Anticancer Research, pp. 1067-72

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