Advanced cancer diagnostics at Methodist Health System
If a screening test or exam points to a probable cancer, the next step is diagnosis. Much more than a simple yes or no, a concise cancer diagnosis helps doctors determine which treatment will provide the best results with the fewest side effects.
Methodist Health System employs some of the world's most advanced diagnostic equipment and has available a team of highly trained medical professionals.
The technologies used in helping to diagnose cancer include:
Methodist's Women's Imaging Centers offer a digital mammogram with a soft, warm cushion used during the exam to make the mammogram more comfortable. Designed with a larger viewing field, the digital mammography system is well-suited to imaging patients of diverse shapes and sizes. Images can be generated within seconds and magnified and manipulated for optimum clarity. Images are then double checked using the Imagechecker® enhanced breast screening technology.
During ultrasound or sonography an ultrasound machine sends sound waves and produces an image of the tissues inside. These images can reveal more information about tissue in the breast, liver, uterus, and kidneys.
Stereotactic biopsy uses an X-ray image to guide a needle into an area of the breast. The tissue sample is removed through this needle and is sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope. A small amount of benign breast tissue may also be removed during the biopsy as an alternative to open biopsy in surgery. This can provide a quicker, less invasive alternative to surgery with a shorter, less painful recovery and a much smaller cut in the breast.
Ultrasound or stereotactic imaging can also be combined with a minimally invasive system called MammotomeTM, which uses suction to remove a sample of breast tissue. The bore of the needle in the MammotomeTM system is larger, thus allowing a larger sample of the entire area of suspicion.
Computed tomography (CT) scan with rapid CT scanner
CT scans use special X-rays to capture images of internal organs from several different angles. The images are sent to a computer, which generates cross-sections of body tissues and organs. Our rapid CT scanner is the latest CT equipment available, producing 32 images each second. This speed improves the clarity and quality of the final image, which allows for a more accurate diagnosis. CT scans can also be done very comfortably and quickly, often in as few as seven minutes. The final images show several types of tissue very clearly, including organs such as the liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, lungs, esophagus, and stomach. CT imaging can uncover cancers in many parts of the body.
Ultrasound and CT scans can also be used as guidance for biopsies.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
MRIs use strong radio waves (rather than radiation) and a strong magnetic field to provide remarkably clear and detailed pictures of internal organs and tissues, including the lungs, liver, breast, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, brain, and blood vessels in the abdomen. MRIs have proved effective for diagnosing cancer. Because these tests don't involve radiation exposure, MRIs may be preferred for examining reproductive systems, the pelvis and hips, and the bladder.
Interventional radiology is a subspecialty of radiology that uses imaging to perform procedures like a CT-guided biopsy or an angiogram. Mediports can also be placed and removed by interventional radiologists.
Bronchoscopy is a direct examination of the airways in the lungs with a long, thin tube called a bronchoscope that has a tiny light and camera mounted on it. Bronchoscopy can find tumors, blood clots, structural problems, and infections.
Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS)
EBUS is used for diagnosis of lung cancer, infections, and other diseases causing enlarged lymph nodes in the chest.
Colonoscopy is a procedure that allows the physician to view the entire length of the large intestine (colon), and can often help identify abnormal growths, inflamed tissue, ulcers, and bleeding. It involves inserting a colonoscope, a long, flexible, lighted tube, in through the rectum up into the colon. The colonoscope allows the physician to see the lining of the colon, remove tissue that can be examined for signs of cancer, and also remove small growths.
Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD or upper endoscopy)
An EGD is a procedure that allows the physician to examine the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. A thin, flexible, lighted tube, called an endoscope, is guided into the mouth and throat, then into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The endoscope allows the physician to view the inside of this area of the body, as well as to insert instruments through a scope for the removal of a sample of tissue for biopsy, if necessary.
Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS)
EUS can help evaluate different types of cancer including esophageal cancer. It can be used to measure the size of a tumor and to show the lymph nodes near the esophagus to see if cancer has spread to them. This helps your doctor decide on the best treatment for you. The ultrasound is usually done during an esophagoscopy.
The doctor inserts a thin, lighted tube called an endoscope through the nose or mouth and down into the esophagus. The endoscope bounces sound waves against the esophagus and nearby areas. The echo from the sound waves creates an image, a sonogram, of the esophagus.
EUS can also be used to evaluate tumors in the pancreas and bile ducts and to evaluate stomach cancer.
Methodist Health System offers positron emission tomography (PET) scans at both Methodist Dallas Medical Center and Methodist Charlton Medical Center. PET scans use high-energy waves to produce three-dimensional images of areas inside the body. PET scans are generally performed on the whole body, and take about two hours. They provide information on the structure of internal organs and tissues, but unlike many other imaging tests, PET uniquely illuminates cancer by detecting the changes in biochemistry that occur prior to the formation of a tumor mass. This additional information can help find cancer sooner than with other imaging tests. It can also help measure the effects of cancer treatments.
Helpful articles from the health library:
Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System.
Texas Oncology PA is an independent physician group with independently practicing oncologists. No oncologist practicing or other health care provider providing services at any cancer center operated by Texas Oncology PA, including the two Methodist Cancer Center locations mentioned above are employees or agents of Methodist Health System, and Methodist Health System does not control nor have the right to control the medical services provided by Texas Oncology PA and/or provided at either cancer center location identified above.