These warning signs may indicate brain cancer.Learn more »
You may undergo the following tests if your doctor thinks you have brain cancer.Learn more »
Learn how we fight brain cancer.Learn more »
Learn about follow-up care for brain cancer.Learn more »
Depending on the stage of your cancer, your path to diagnosis and treatment could vary greatly from someone else’s path. You may have some or all of these tests while you are in the process of brain cancer diagnosis.
Our leading-edge 64-slice CT (computed tomography) scanner provides unparalleled three-dimensional images of your body. A CT or CAT scan is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, organs and blood vessels. CT scans are more detailed than standard X-rays.
During a CT scan, the X-ray beam moves in a circle around the body. This allows many different views of the same organ or structure, and provides much greater detail. The X-ray information is sent to a computer that interprets the X-ray data and displays it in two-dimensional form on a monitor. Newer technology and computer software makes three-dimensional (3-D) images possible.
CT scans may be done with or without contrast. "Contrast" refers to a substance taken by mouth or injected into an intravenous (IV) line that causes the particular organ or tissue under study to be seen more clearly. Contrast examinations may require you to fast for a certain period of time before the procedure. Your doctor will notify you of this prior to the procedure.
CT also may be used in conjunction with other diagnostic tests, such as positron emission tomography or PET scans. Newer technology combines PET and CT into one scanner, known as PET/CT.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of a large magnet, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
The MRI machine creates a strong magnetic field around the patient. The magnetic field, along with a radiofrequency, alters the hydrogen atoms' natural alignment in the body. Computers then are used to form a two-dimensional image of a body structure or organ based on the activity of the hydrogen atoms. Cross-sectional views can be obtained to reveal further details. MRI does not use radiation, as do X-rays or computed tomography (CT scans).
Positron emission tomography (PET) is a specialized radiology procedure used to examine various body tissues to identify certain conditions. PET also may be used to follow the progress of the treatment of certain conditions. While PET is most commonly used in the fields of neurology, oncology and cardiology, applications in other fields currently are being studied.
We use PET-CT precise diagnostic testing for more accurate treatment. This technology provides critical information after a single, quick exam to help your physician diagnose cancer, determine an effective treatment plan and monitor its success.
PET is a type of nuclear medicine procedure. This means that a tiny amount of a radioactive substance, called a radionuclide (radiopharmaceutical or radioactive tracer), is used during the procedure to assist in the examination of the tissue under study. Specifically, PET studies evaluate the metabolism of a particular organ or tissue, so that information about the physiology (functionality) and anatomy (structure) of the organ or tissue is evaluated, as well as its biochemical properties. Thus, PET may detect biochemical changes in an organ or tissue that can identify the onset of a disease process before anatomical changes related to the disease can be seen with other imaging processes, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
PET most often is used by oncologists (doctors specializing in cancer treatment), neurologists and neurosurgeons (doctors specializing in treatment and surgery of the brain and nervous system), and cardiologists (doctors specializing in the treatment of the heart). However, as advances in PET technologies continue, this procedure is beginning to be used more widely in other areas.
PET also is being used in conjunction with other diagnostic tests such as computed tomography (CT) to provide more definitive information about malignant (cancerous) tumors and other lesions. The combination of PET and CT shows particular promise in the diagnosis and treatment of many types of cancer.