Screening Tests

An estimated 1.4 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer and upwards of 35 percent of the deaths could be prevented through screening. Cancer is difficult to detect, but the earlier it is detected, the better are the chances of treating it effectively. Multiple imaging techniques are available to help detect abnormalities in the body including: X-ray imaging, CT scans, nuclear imaging, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These imaging tools are also extremely valuable for determining how advanced the cancer is in its exact location.

Importance of imaging:

  • Screening for cancer
  • Diagnosis
  • Guiding treatments
  • Determining if a treatment is working
  • Monitoring for recurrence

Typical Screening Tests

X-rays
An X-ray is a form of electromagnetic radiation where an painless electromagnetic beam is aimed through your body to a piece of film behind it. The beam produces an image of your bones on the film which can help diagnose bone chips, dislocates and fractures, joint or spine injuries, bone infections and other defects in the bones or joints. i.e. mammograms.

CT Scan
CT Scan uses an X-ray sensing unit that circles the body and creates image slices of the inside of the body. A computer pieces together these images to produce three-dimensional images of your body. A CT scan is useful for: identifying bone disorders, i.e. osteoporosis, revealing the location of a tumor or infection, finding internal injuries or bleeding, monitoring the progress of a disease, and guiding surgeries.

MRI
A MRI, magnetic resonance imaging, uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create cross-sectional images of your head and body. These detailed images help identify and diagnose a wide range of conditions including: disorders of the central nervous system, i.e. multiple sclerosis, brain and spinal tumors, diseases of the pituitary gland, eye or inner ear tissue abnormalities, bone and joint damage and infections of the bones and joints.

Nuclear Imaging
Nuclear imaging introduces a low dose of a radioactive substance into the body that attaches to the cells of a tumor. The radioactive substance can then be traced in the body to see where and when it builds up. Pet and SPECT scanners are typical nuclear imaging devices used to detect tumors.

Ultrasound
An ultrasound uses sound waves to make a detailed picture of your internal organs. A device sends sound waves through the body and records when the sound waves are reflected back into the device. Your organs and other body tissues reflect back the sound waves and enable a detailed picture to be created displaying the inside of the body.

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