Are CT Scans Accurate for Diagnosing Cancer?
In addition to ultrasounds, another scan commonly used in standard cancer diagnosis is a CT scan. CT stands for computed tomography, an imaging tool that produces scans (pictures) of inside the body using X-ray technology. It’s also sometimes referred to as a CAT scan (computerized axial tomography).
While CT scans provide a little more detail than an ultrasound, they still cannot identify cancerous tissue and can lead to false negatives. PET/CT scans provide far more accurate, detailed results.
Problems with CT Scans
- CT Scans Fail to Detect Cancer
Like ultrasounds, a CT scan is unable to differentiate cancerous tissue from non-cancerous tissue:
- Therefore, CT scans can lead to a false negative
- This can negatively impact your ability to get any treatment at all
- This can prolong the time it takes you to access treatment
- In the meantime, your cancer can progress
- CT Scans Lack Detail
It cannot identify the most aggressive tumours:
- Therefore, doctors are unable to prioritize treatment effectively
- They’re unable to differentiate between cancerous tissue and cysts (or fibroids)
- CT Scans Miss Tumours
It’s unable to clearly identify the location of all tumours in your body:
- Therefore, it is common for tumours to be completely missed
- Or, to have only partial tumour removal during surgery)
- CT Scans are Inaccurate for Treatment Monitoring
After cancer treatment, a CT scan is unable to determine whether masses leftover are cancerous
- The CT scan might show signs of cancer, but that cancer might not be active
- For example, it could be scar tissue left over from cancer killed off by your treatment
- This means you won’t know whether or not you need to continue treatment
Why a PET/CT Scan is Better Than a CT Scan
A PET/CT scan, meanwhile, does show whether tissue is cancerous or not and how active it is. This means you won’t receive a false negative, and will also avoid continuing treatment unnecessarily. We’ve had clients who’d been told that they were cancer-free, based on a CT scan. But when they got a PET/CT scan, it identified a cancerous tumour that would have otherwise gone untreated.
Suffice it to say, you cannot rely on a CT scan. Please see our PET/CT vs CT Comparison to learn more about how CT scans fail cancer patients.
Best Diagnostic Imaging Test for Cancer
If we know that PET/CT scan is a superior diagnostic tool, why are doctors still prescribing CT scans to patients (usually after they’ve had an ultrasound)?
- CT scans are cheaper than PET/CT scans
- CT scans are cheaper than MRIs
- They provide more detail than an ultrasound
The usual process in standard diagnostic treatment is to give people the cheapest (and least accurate) tests firsts. Then if those tests show troubling signs, the patient will get a slightly more accurate test. However, PET/CT scans are still not a part of standard diagnostics, except in worst case scenarios. By this point, so much time has passed, incorrect treatments might have already been given, and the cancer might have progressed to an uncontrollable point.
When you get a PET/CT scan from the beginning, you avoid wasting any time at all – and you are guaranteed to receive all the facts about whether you have cancerous tumours, where exactly they are, how aggressive they are, and whether your treatment is working optimally.
Please read more about why PET/CT scans are so effective, how they work, and how you can get access to one immediately.
If you or a loved one has received a cancer diagnosis and wants to know what the best options are for moving forward, please email or call us, our cancer specialists today. You can also schedule a free consultation with CTOAM’s Director of Scientific Research, Alex Rolland , to discuss your situation and how you can access the best tests and treatments available today.