Early detection is one of the best weapons against cancer. Advances in imaging have revolutionized modern medicine, especially for patients with cancer. Ellis Fischel Cancer Center is home to some of the latest advancements in medical imaging. The cancer center includes a full suite of imaging services under one roof, including 3-D mammography, a 64-slice large bore CT scan machine and a 40-slice large bore PET/CT.
Mammography is available for patients at three Columbia locations: Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, South Providence Medical Park and Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Mammography also is available via Ellis Fischel’s Mammography Van, which travels throughout central and north central Missouri.
A breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammogram, allows physicians to better investigate hidden cancers by acquiring a conventional 2-D and a 3-D mammogram image at the same time. The technology uses high-powered computing to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or “slices” to build what is essentially a 3-D mammogram.
Mammography uses X-rays to create images of the breast to find early signs of breast cancer such as a dense mass or clusters of calcium. Mammograms are the gold standard in screening exams to detect breast cancer early.
A breast MRI may show problems in the breast that cannot be seen on a mammogram, ultrasound or CT scan. The MRI produces images that show the breasts’ normal structure, tissue damage or disease, such as infection, inflammation or lumps.
A breast ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of the tissues inside the breast. A breast ultrasound can show all areas of the breast, including the area closest to the chest wall. Breast ultrasound does not use X-rays or other types of radiation.
CT (CAT) scan
Computed tomography (CT scan or CAT scan) uses X-rays to create digital images of organs, tissues or other body structures. The CT scanner sends X-rays through the body area being studied. Each rotation of the scanner provides a picture of a thin slice of the organ or other area.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnet to produce an image of organs, tissue and skeletal systems. MRIs are used to identify bleeding, tumors, infection or injury.
Functional MRI (fMRI) produces three-dimensional images of a patient’s brain that show not only the physical structure of the brain but also detect neurological activity and illustrate which portions of the brain control specific activities. The technology can be used for determining treatment plans for patients with tumors in certain areas of the brain and other neurological conditions such as epilepsy.
Positron emission tomography (PET scan) uses a small amount of radiation to produce an image of body tissues. PET scans are used to reveal how tissues and organs are functioning and are useful in evaluating cancer.
X-rays are often the first imaging study ordered to diagnose bone and joint abnormalities. X-rays use a very small and safe dose of radiation. They are excellent for detecting broken bones, abnormal joints and many tumors.