Through hospital and affiliate resources, our Comprehensive Community Cancer
Program has access to some of the most advanced diagnostic and treatment
capabilities available today. The sophistication of these capabilities
is rare among community hospitals and it actively demonstrates Salinas
Valley Memorial Healthcare System's enduring commitment to caring
for people with cancer.
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Computerized Tomography (CT)
Computerized tomography, sometimes called CT scan or CAT scan, uses special
X-ray equipment to obtain image data from difference angles around the
body. A computer then processes these images to show multiple cross-sections
of the tissue and organs. CT imaging is particularly useful because it
can show several types of tissues - lungs, bones, soft tissue and blood
vessels - with great clarity. With the amount of detail shown on CT scans,
radiologists can more easily diagnose cancers, cardiovascular disease,
infectious disease, trauma, and muscle and skeletal disorders. CT exams
are used to plan and administer radiation treatments for tumors, guide
biopsies, and plan surgery. Calcium scoring of the heart is another proactive
use of the CT scan. CT scans play a significant role in the early detection,
diagnosis and treatment of cancers and heart disease.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET/CT)
Positron Emission Tomography (PET/CT) is a diagnostic tool that uses radioisotopes
to image the body's biochemical functions, detecting the presence, recurrence
or spread of various types of cancer. Certain subtle changes in the body's
biochemistry are indications of different types of cancers, including
but not limited to colon cancer, breast cancer, lymphoma, lung cancer,
and melanoma. PET/CT scans go beyond the scope of MRI and CT images to
reveal the disease process before visible signs and symptoms may occur.
PET/CT is also being utilized as a tool to identify early stage heart
disease and brain disorders.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI is a diagnostic technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves
to create cross-sectional images of the head and body. MRI images are
used in the diagnosis of central nervous system disorders as well as joint,
ligament, muscle, and bone problems. Organ function, blood flow, presence
of growths or lesions, and abnormal size or position of organs, bones,
blood vessels or soft tissue structures are all analyzed by the radiologist
evaluating the MRI images. Identifying damage caused by heart attack or
heart disease and detection of plaque and blockages in the blood vessels
are just a few examples of what the MRI reveals.
Dedicated Breast MRI
Dedicated breast MRI systems offer significant improvement in performance
and diagnostic accuracy. Studies have shown that breast MRI more accurately
assesses tumor size and spread than mammography or ultrasound, enabling
oncology surgeons and their patients to determine whether the best course
of treatment is lumpectomy or mastectomy.
Ultrasound scanning works like underwater sonar using a device similar
to a microphone pressed against the area being scanned. Most ultrasound
scans are done from outside the body, through the skin. This device sends
out very high frequency sound waves, which go into the area being examined
and bounce back when they hit an organ or blood vessel. These sound waves
are processed by a computer, which produces a map of the area being scanned.
This technique allows the radiographer to see static structures and to
observe moving parts such as the heart of a baby in the womb or the valves
inside an adult heart.
Diagnostic radiology, more familiarly known as X-ray, is the oldest form
of medical imaging. X-ray is a fast, painless, and safe way for a doctor
to view and assess conditions ranging from broken bones to pneumonia to
cancer. More specifically, X-rays may be used to determine whether a bone
is chipped, dislocated, or broken; evaluate joint injuries and bone infections;
diagnose and monitor the progression of degenerative conditions such as
arthritis and osteoporosis; screen for heart and lung diseases; find and
treat artery blockages; diagnose the cause of persistent coughing or chest
pain; evaluate unexplained abdominal pain; help locate objects that may
have been accidentally swallowed by a child; determine whether a bone
or disk in the spine has been injured; detect scoliosis and other spinal
defects; evaluate sinus infections; locate dental problems; diagnose lung,
intestinal; stomach, liver, spleen, kidney, and breast cancer; and determine
whether cancer has spread to the lungs from another part of the body.
Nuclear medicine includes diagnostic examinations that result in images
of body anatomy and function. These images result from detection of energy
emitted from harmless radioactive substances given to the patient, either
intravenously or by mouth. Nuclear medicine images assist physicians in
diagnosing diseases, tumors and infections. Specifically, nuclear medicine
can be used to analyze kidney function; show blood flow and functions
of the heart; scan lungs for respiratory and blood-flow problems; identify
blockage of the gallbladder; evaluate bones for fracture, infection, arthritis
or tumor; determine the presence or spread of cancer; identify bleeding
into the bowel; locate the presence of infection; and measure thyroid
function to detect an overactive or underactive thyroid gland.