As a lecturer of the first year medical class at the University of Toronto I present to you a lecture report creating awareness of the technological advancements in the diagnosis of cancer in the medical field.
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. The old cells do not die, instead grow out of control, forming the new divided abnormal cells. There are more than 200 different types of cancer. Cancer starts when gene changes make one cell or a few cells begin to grow and multiply too much. This may cause a growth called a tumor. Cancer can start almost anywhere in your body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Cancer cells differ from normal cells in many ways that allow them to grow out of control and become invasive. An important difference is that cancer cells are less specialized that normal cells. Cancer symptoms and signs depend on the grade of cancer and the type. Though some general signs and symptoms could be; fatigue, weight loss, pain, skin changes, unusual bleeding, fever, lumps.
There are five main categories of cancer:
Carcinomas begin in the skin or tissues that line the internal organs.
Sarcomas develop in the bone, cartilage, fat, muscle or other connective tissues.
Leukemia begins in the blood and bone marrow.
Lymphomas start in the immune system.
Central nervous system cancers develop in the brain and spinal cord.
Some of the common types of cancer are; Non-melanoma skin cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, balder cancer, kidney cancer, leukemia etc.
Causes of Cancer/ Risk Factors of cancer:
It is usually not possible to know exactly why someone develops cancer. But research has shown certain risk factors may increase a person’s chances of developing cancer. Cancer risk factor include exposure to chemicals or other substances, as well as certain behaviors, such as obesity of low intake of fruits and vegetables. It may also include things one may not be able to control such as age and family history. A list below includes the most know or rather suspected risk factors of cancer.
Age – According to the most recent statistical data from NCI’s Surveillance the median age of cancer diagnosis is 66 years. This means that half of cancer cases occur in people below this age and half in people above this age.
Alcohol – Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, liver and breast. The risk of cancer is much higher for those who drink alcohol and also use tobacco.
Above are just two risk factors explain though others are; cancer-causing substances, chronic inflammation, diet, hormones, obesity, radiation, sunlight.
Solution towards Cancer Diagnosis – Technological Method:
There are technological advancements that have led to improvement of diagnosis and proper management of the disease. The most sophisticated technologies used for diagnosing cancer are HD PET CT scanner with LSO crystal technology, Gamma Camera, CT scans, MRI, Digital Mammography, High end Ultrasound machines, Dexa scans etc. To add on according to American Cancer Society some of the common cancer treatments are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The technological method I will focus and research on is Mammography. Mammography is a specialized imaging that uses a low-dose X-ray system to see inside the breasts. It is used to detect and diagnose breast disease in women who either have breast problems, such as a lump, or nipple discharge, as well as for women who have no breast complaints. According to www.hopkinsmedicine.org is states that with computer-aided detection (CAD) systems, a digitized mammographic image from a conventional film mammogram or a digitally acquired mammogram is analyzed for masses, calcifications, or areas of abnormal density that may indicate the presence of cancer.
There are two types or mammograms screening and diagnostic. A screening mammogram involves an x-ray which is used to detect breast changes in women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer. Whereas a diagnostic mammogram involves an x-ray of the breast used to diagnose unusual breast changes such as a lump, pain, nipple thickening or discharge etc.
Preparing for a mammogram you must inform your doctor of any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer. Make sure you schedule your mammogram a week following your period. The ACS (American Cancer Society) recommends you to; not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of mammogram, make sure you inform the technologist of any breast symptoms or problems, obtain prior mammograms as needed for comparison, leave any jewelry behind, and wear comfortable and loose clothing.
Furthermore an x-ray is a noninvasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with x-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body. X-rays use invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images or internal tissues, bones, and organs on film. Once the x-ray is carefully aimed at the part of the body being examined, it produces a small burst of radiation that passes through the body, recording an image on photogenic film or a special detector.
Mammography is performed on an outpatient basis. To perform the mammography a specially qualified radiologic technologist will position your breast in the mammography unit. Your breast will be placed on a special platform and compressed with a clear plastic paddle. Gradually the technologist will compress your breast. It is necessary to do so as breast compression;
• Evens out the breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be visualized
• Spreads out the tissue so that the small abnormalities are less likely to be hidden
• Reduce x-ray scanner to increase sharpness of picture etc.
During the mammogram you will need to keep changing the position between the images, so that the views are a top-to-bottom view and an angled view. The process would be repeated for the other breast. To reduce the possibility of blurred images you must be very still and keep breathing for a few seconds. The technologist will step behind a protective window while the image is taken. The examination process should take about 30 minutes.
Benefits and Risks of the Method:
• Imaging of the breast improves a physician’s ability to detect small tumors, when cancers are small, the woman has more treatment options.
• The use of screening mammography increases the detection of small abnormal tissue growths confined to the milk ducts in the breast, called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). These early tumors cannot harm patients if they are removed at this stage and mammography is an excellent way to detect these tumors. It is also useful for detecting all types of breast cancer, including invasive ductal and invasive lobular cancer.
• No radiation remains in a patient’s body after an x-ray examination.
• X-rays usually have no side effects in the typical diagnostic range for this exam.
• There is always a slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation. However, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk.
• The effective radiation dose for this procedure varies.
• False Positive Mammograms. Five percent to 15 percent of screening mammograms require more testing such as additional mammograms or ultrasound. Most of these tests turn out to be normal. If there is an abnormal finding, a follow-up or biopsy may have to be performed. Most of the biopsies confirm that no cancer was present. It is estimated that a woman who has yearly mammograms between ages 40 and 49 has about a 30 percent chance of having a false-positive mammogram at some point in that decade and about a 7 percent to 8 percent chance of having a breast biopsy within the 10-year period.
• Women should always inform their physician or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
Impact of Method:
Various studies have reported a positive connection between lower Socioeconomic Status and decreased participation in mammography screening. I would like to focus on the ethical impact of mammography. Various studies have consistently reported a connection between ethnicity and mammography screening participation. Studies have shown that first generation women of Hispanic, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Cambodian ethnic background have reduced participation in mammography. To add on studies have also shown that Muslim women do not attend mammography screening as non- Muslim women. Religion has a strong influence upon Muslim health behaviors and slight research has examined how religion-related beliefs inform Muslim women’s intention for mammography. In my opinion, several beliefs of the Islamic faith may limit the willingness of Muslim women to undergo mammography. Some Muslim women believe that God controls diseases and cures, thus they do not believe that mammograms would be beneficial. Lastly the Islamic faith places a high priority on modesty, many Muslim women may feel discomfort exposing their bodies for mammograms or having male practitioners.
In conclusion religious beliefs influence decisions to pursue mammography across the ethnic/racial diversity of Muslim women. Philosophies about duty to God and the stewardship of one’s body appear to enhance mammography intention.
According to https://draxe.com/mammograms-cause-cancer / at times mammograms can increase radiation exposure. “Mammograms expose your body to very high levels of radiation. Some even speculate radiation that is 1,000 times greater than a chest x-ray. It’s been theorized that ionizing radiation mutates cells, and the mechanical pressure can spread cells that are already malignant (as can biopsies).
In my opinion a mammography continues to be an important life-saving tool in the fight against breast cancer. It can be a great way to detect small tumors though the slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation may be dangerous. I would recommend this method to someone that needs some kind of help regarding the mammography if they are not too conscious about the radiation.