Diagnostic Imaging

The success of your cancer treatment is dependent on the extent of the spread of your tumor. In most cases, this determination is largely based on diagnostic imaging tests and scans. Texas Oncology cancer treatment centers provide the most advanced diagnostic imaging services available.

Medical oncologists may order diagnostic imaging scans using one or more of the following technologies:

Computed Tomography (CT) scans are valuable in staging cancer and planning treatments.  Computed tomogrpahy technology combines x-rays with computers to produce highly detailed cross-sectional pictures of the body.

Various Computed Tomography (CT) technologies are available including Dual Slice, Multi-Slice, and Multi-Slice Wide Bore, which produce scans that enable medical oncologists to see a patient's entire anatomy.  Using these scans, medical oncologists can more accurately select and target critical anatomical structures, with greater confidence, for precise radiation therapy planning.

PET (Positron Emission Tomography) is a molecular imaging procedure that generates pictures of the precise location and extent of the cancer. By imaging the molecular and physiological basis of the disease, PET enables physicians to detect abnormal cell growth and activity. This information aids in the early detection and improved treatment of cancer.  For more details about the PET imaging procedure, please visit our positron emission tomography information page.

PET/CT is a relatively new imaging tool that combines two scan techniques in one - a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan and a Computed Tomography (CT) scan. PET/CT is mainly used for diagnosis, staging or restaging cancer and for evaluation of treatment response. Together the two procedures provide information about the location, nature of and the extent of a tumor. It answers questions such as: where is the tumor, how big is it, is it malignant, benign or due to inflammatory change, and has it spread?

ExacTrac is another imaging technology that is being used by Texas Oncology cancer centers. It offers medical oncologists advanced imaging technology to verify patient and tumor position at the time of treatment. Knowing exactly where the tumor is allows clinicians to reduce the amount of tissue irradiated, targeting only the tumor and sparing the surrounding normal tissue. Irradiating less normal tissue reduces the toxicity of radiotherapy, improves the patient’s quality of life, and may make it possible to deliver higher radiation doses to the tumor in fewer treatment sessions. For more details about this diagnostic imaging technology, please view our ExacTrac Advanced Image-guided Radiation Therapy page. 

Other cutting-edge diagnostic imaging technologies used by your Texas Oncology medical oncology team include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear medicine, vascular/interventional radiology, ultrasound, and mammography.

Another service offered in some of our cancer treatment centers is bone density screening. This is a simple, non-invasive procedure used to detect early signs of osteoporosis and determine rate of bone loss. A bone densitometer uses small amounts of x-ray (about 1/10 of that received during a chest x-ray) to measure the patient's bone mineral density (BMD). With proper screening, osteoporosis can be diagnosed and treated before fractures occur. However, bone density screening does not contribute to cancer staging (classifying the cancer as being at a certain stage of development) or follow-up.