New Approach to Radiography Can Aid in Early Asbestos Disease Detection

Manhattan Beach, CA—A new technology that will aid in the earlier detection of asbestos-related diseases was unveiled Saturday, March 28th, at the annual conference of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

The technology will enhance current radiography approaches, enabling doctors to detect tumors arising from asbestos exposure at a much earlier stage in their development, as well as in clearer detail.

Said Michael Harbut, M.D., MPH, co-director of the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers (NCVAC) at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit, MI, and chief of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine Wayne State University, “if we can identify the ‘sentinel’ or first cases of asbestosis or lung cancer at an early stage, then we can help identify asbestos exposures in places where it might not have previously been suspected. Such identification of early detection could help to reduce the death rate from asbestos-related diseases.”

The new approach, which involves taking images obtained by a CT scan and enhancing them using an imaging software program, could also help in potential cases of asbestos-litigation fraud. Since the images have such a high level of sophistication and clarity, it will be easier for physicians to make a distinction between the asbestos-related cancers and other types of cancer.

Additionally, this imaging program can help determine why some people, who have thickening on the mesothelium, or covering of the lungs, suffer extreme pain. The ability to successfully treat the asbestos-related diseases, as well as to diagnose them, is also increased by this technology.

Mesothelioma, or cancer of the mesothelium, is nearly always linked to asbestos exposure. It is an aggressive cancer which is usually not diagnosed until decades after the initial exposure, at which point it is often untreatable. Exposure to asbestos is common among miners, construction workers, shipbuilders and Navy personnel. When mixed with other materials, it is used for thousands of building products and other commercial products; if the asbestos material is disturbed, however, it releases millions of microscopic fibers into the air, which can then be breathed in by those working in the contaminated environment. Such exposure can lead to lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other diseases.

Carmen Endress, M.D., FACR, Associate Professor of Radiology, Wayne State University School of Medicine and radiologist at the NCVAC, developed these approaches to tumor detection.

“It’s my sincere hope that with this new approach and enhanced technology we will help reduce the death rate caused by asbestos-related diseases, reduce the suffering by patients and their loved ones, and make a significant contribution to medicine,” stated Dr. Endress.