In order for cancer to be effectively treated, disease specific information and cancer staging is gathered using one or more diagnostic options. Examples of diagnostics utilized at St. Vincent Healthcare are:
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
- CT (computerized tomography) - A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body taken from different angles. The pictures are created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine.
- PET scan (Positron Emission Tomography) - A procedure in which a small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein and a scanner is used to make detailed, computerized pictures of areas inside the body where the glucose is used. Because cancer cells often use more glucose than normal cells, the pictures can be used to find cancer cells in the body.
- Ultrasound - A procedure in which high-energy sound waves are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echo patterns are shown on the screen of an ultrasound machine, forming a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.
- Fluoroscopy - An x-ray machine that makes it possible to see internal organs in motion.
- Nuclear Medicine Scan - A method of diagnostic imaging that uses very small amounts of radioactive material. The patient is injected with a liquid that contains the radioactive substance, which collects in the part of the body to be imaged. Sophisticated instruments detect the radioactive substance in the body and process that information into an image. Also called nuclear scan.
It is common for you to undergo a procedure called a biopsy. A biopsy is the removal of cells or tissues for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist may study the tissue under a microscope or perform other tests on the cells or tissue. There are many different types of biopsy procedures. The most common types include:
- Incisional biopsy, in which only a sample of tissue is removed.
- Excisional biopsy, in which an entire lump or suspicious area is removed.
- Needle biopsy, in which a sample of tissue or fluid is removed with a needle. When a wide needle is used, the procedure is called a core biopsy. When a thin needle is used, the procedure is called a fine-needle aspiration biopsy.
The biopsy will allow your medical team to make a definitive diagnosis and create a treatment plan specific to your needs.