Irving, TX – May 14, 2020 – New technologies have been developed with the potential to identify cancer early and provide detailed information about a tumor’s biological activity. This helps doctors determine and plan an appropriate treatment for the patient. These molecular imaging techniques will show how aggressive a patient’s cancer is by looking at the tumor characteristics.
“Functional imaging tools help doctors to determine a patient’s diagnosis,” explained the radiologist. “They can look for the features of the cancer cells and diagnose cancer early when treatment is possible. This helps to improve patient survival even in the hard-to-treat cancers.”
The functional imaging tools for cancer diagnosis include:
- PET imaging – Positron emission tomography uses a radioactive marker, and glucose to travel to tumor locations. When cancer cells absorb the molecules, they send radioactive signals, which are then picked up by the scanner and interpreted by a radiologist. PET scans are used to diagnose cancer.
- Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) – An MRI is used to obtain structural information about a patient’s tumor. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy uses similar technology to MRI but does not produce images. Instead, MRS analyzes the chemical makeup, which, when combined with MRI, helps in cancer diagnosis. It also helps to classify brain cancer. Both MRI and MRS are often done concurrently.
- Photoacoustic imaging – Photoacoustic imaging is a modified version of ultrasound. It combines sound and light to get detailed information on cancer cells. During the procedure, short pulses of laser light are used to target a tissue, which will heat up and vibrate. This sends ultrasound waves to the ultrasound machine to be converted to images. Photoacoustic imaging visualizes structures located deeper in the body with detailed precision compared to ultrasound alone. It can also be used with contrast material to improve image quality.
“Functional imaging is excellent in showing the activity of cancer cells,” continued the radiologist. “Since cancer cells grow and multiply much faster, functional imaging techniques can identify locations with more cancer cell activity even at their early stages.”