The Benefits of a CT Scan for Cancer Detection

Posted in , , by Echelon Health

In the not-so-distant past, the diagnosis of cancer was seen as a death sentence. With a lack of treatment options, a poor understanding of the disease and underdeveloped imaging techniques, the 10 year survival rate for a cancer patient was around 24% four decades ago. Today, that survival rate has more than doubled to 50% and continues to improve thanks to advancements in cancer screening programs and treatments. Nevertheless, 50% of cancers are still diagnosed at a late stage, according to Cancer Research UK. This is largely because we tend to see our GP only once symptoms are present, by which time treatment options are often limited. This is where preventative health checks come in and a very important screening technique is the CT scan for cancer detection.

What is a CT scan?

A CT scan, also known as a Computerised Tomography scan or CAT scan, is a computerised X-ray imaging procedure in which a narrow beam of X-rays are aimed at the body and quickly rotated around it. The resulting X-ray measurements are then processed by advanced computer software that renders cross sectional images (or “slices”) of specific areas of the body in amazing detail and resolution to see deep inside without the need for an invasive procedure.

CT has its advantages over other imaging techniques. Whilst an MRI is best for imaging the brain, spinal cord and prostate gland for example, CT is superior for scanning atherosclerosis inside arteries suggestive of coronary heart disease. It is also fantastic for imaging the lungs and colon and will detect even very small tumours lurking in these tissues. For an in-depth comparison of MRI with CT, click here.

CT can detect cancers to a fantastically high resolution along with the blood vessels that feed the tumour and other structures nearby.

CT scan for cancer - Echelon Health
An important component of your Echelon Health Assessment is the expert advice you will receive from our renowned physicians, pictured above is our Medical Director Dr Paul Jenkins MA MD FRCP. Up to seven specialist consultants will review the results from your tests and scans, including CTs for cancer detection, each reporting on their particular area of expertise.

What are the benefits of a CT scan for cancer detection?

A CT scan is one of the many methods we use today to detect cancer early, and it comes with many unique benefits. Moreover, the Aquilion ONE CT scanner operated by Echelon Health and housed at our Harley Street Centre is a brilliant technology with numerous benefits;

  • CT is fantastic at imaging the lungs, colon and heart arteries. If a tumour is lurking here it will detect it. In the past our radiologists have detected lung nodules as small as 1-2mm using the Aquilion ONE CT scanner.
  • The Aquilion can image 640 slices of the body with each rotation of its tube, compared to 16-64 slices from many other scanners.
  • With a spatial resolution of 0.3mm, the Aquilion ONE can see inside tissues to an extraordinary level of detail. This is much sharper compared to >0.5 mm for 64 slice scanners.
  • The Aquilion ONE is the only scanner able to image the heart in patients with an irregular heart rhythm and the only scanner capable of real time 4D imaging of moving joints
  • The Aquilion ONE CT scanner emits lower radiation doses and is therefore safer, despite being more powerful than most CTs the NHS operate.

What types of cancer can a CT scan detect?

Cancer can develop in any tissue and therefore it is important that a cancer screening is as comprehensive as possible. CT is not ideal for imaging all tissues, and for these we utilise MRI or ultrasound, however it is by far the best technique for scanning many tissues. Here is how Echelon Health ultilise CT scans for cancer detection and other conditions

CT scan

What it detects

CT ChestLung cancer
CT Virtual ColonoscopyColon cancer
CT AbdomenCancer of the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, adrenal glands
CT PelvisCancer of the kidneys, bladder, lymph glands
CT HeartCalcium deposits which are a sign of atherosclerosis, or ‘furring up’ of the heart arteries
CT Coronary AngiogramDisease of the coronary arteries which supply the heart, including atherosclerosis
CT AortaDisease of the aorta, which supplies the entire body, including ballooning or weakness
CT Bone DensityAccurately measuring bone density and risk of developing osteoporosis.
EOS CT upright skeletonMusculoskeletal system – postural problems, predisposition to spinal disc problems

Early detection helps to identify cancer before it has a chance to metastasise, or spread, to other parts of the body. In fact, a CT scan for cancer detection can identify cancers before they even cause symptoms. Take colon cancers for example. Most develop from tiny polyps which slowly increase in size over many years. This means there is plenty of time to catch it early if a CT virtual colonoscopy is performed. In the same vein, early detection of any cancer will benefit your treatment options and usually result in a more promising outcome. According to Cancer Research UK, lung cancer diagnosed in its earliest stage leads to an 80% one year survival rate as opposed to 15% when diagnosed at the most advanced stage.

It is clear that early detection of disease leads to a long and healthy life. CT is a big player in the world of preventative medicine. However, in order to offer the most comprehensive Health Assessments in the world, Echelon Health adopt a combination of imaging technologies. These include MRI, ultrasound, a full body mole screen, digital mammogram and blood tests for over 40 parameters.

Combined medical imaging via CT scans

Here at Echelon Health we offer several health assessment packages. These are all designed to detect cancer, and other disease, early and give you peace of mind. Each assessment will involve a detailed medical history, an ECG, blood tests and a number of scans tailored to suit your needs. Your results will be analysed by experienced consultants led by our Medical Director and renowned consultant endocrinologist Dr Jenkins MA MD FRCP.

We have many case studies where potentially fatal incidents and illnesses have been abated thanks to our health assessments. Here is a recent testimonial from international footballer and manager Ole Gunnar Solksjaer;

“A faultless and highly personal service; all the staff were extremely welcoming and made the whole process as easy and as comfortable as possible.”

For more information about our packages, don’t hesitate to contact us today on +44 (0)20 7580 7688 to speak to our friendly representatives or alternatively, click the button below and let us know when it is most convenient to contact you.

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Sources

Cancer Research UK – Cancer Statistics for the UK

Cancer Research UK – Cancer survival statistics for all cancers combined

RadiologyInfo.org – What are the benefits of CT scans?