CT Scan For Bone Cancer Triples Accuracy

Myeloid Leukemia detection with CT scan

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Traditionally a series of x-rays of all of the major bones in the body are used to detect myeloid myeloma, a process known as a radiographic skeletal survey.

Yet in some areas, especially Europe, whole body CT is beginning to gain favor as testing indicates it is a more effective and thorough exam for measuring bone involvement in multiple myelomas, a bone-based form of leukemia.

"Ask your oncologist about whole body CT scanning for multiple myeloma."

A formal comparison between the two imaging technologies was presented at the American Roentgen Ray Society's annual meeting by a radiologist from the University of Maryland, and the traditional radiographic skeletal survey fell short against results from whole body CT scans.

The clear finding was that CT was superior to radiographic skeletal survey in detecting bone lesions typical of multiple myeloma, a type of leukemia found in the bone, by at least a factor of three.

On average, 968 bone lesions were detected via CT scan in comparison to the 248 that the radiographic skeletal survey picked up, with CT scan having more than triple the accuracy of the simpler x-ray exam..

In conclusion, researchers found that 61 percent of patients with multiple myeloma would have had lesions completely missed or had their cancer under-diagnosed if they had only been evaluated with the radiographic skeletal survey alone.

The analysis was a retrospective review of 300 patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma between 2004 to 2011.

Patients were examined with the simple x ray, CT scan, and PET scan in a period of less than three months. Results were reviewed by independent radiologists for their evaluation of the patient.

Some radiology groups have spoken out against wide use of whole body CT scans, as the radiation amounts are significant and slightly raise an individual's lifetime risk for developing cancer. For comparison, a whole body CT scan exposes a patient to about ten times as much radiation as a skeletal survey, and about a thousand times as much as a single chest x-ray.

The study was presented May 2, 2012 at the annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society.

No conflicts of interest were disclosed by the researchers.

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Review Date: 
May 3, 2012
Last Updated:
May 7, 2012