Very important in cancer diagnostics is “painless imaging”. It is a painless insight into the patient’s body by using different imaging procedures. In cooperation with specialized institutions following examinations can be arranged at short notice.
Computer tomography (CT)
Computer tomography is an X-radiation procedure by which the examined organs and tissues are mapped layer by layer. This allows a much more detailed look inside of a body in comparison to conventional X-ray examinations.
The individual sectional images even can be transformed into three-dimensional images, which can be rotated and spatially displayed on a monitor.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI – magnetic resonance imaging – does not use X-radiation. With this imaging technique highly detailed images of a body’s interior are produced by means of a strong magnetic field and radiofrequency waves.
MRI is particularly suitable to examine soft tissues and organs. This is why we use this method, for example, to precisely define size and position of a tumor mass and of metastases.
PET/CT is currently the most advanced imaging procedure in tumor screening. It combines the advantages of positron emission imaging (PET) and computer tomography (CT) in one medical device.
PET makes it possible to visualize metabolic processes in the body. For this purpose marker substances, so called “tracers”, are injected into the blood stream. Their distribution in a body is then documented by a measuring unit. On this basis a computer calculates pictures of the different body areas.
Tumors and metastases often show different metabolisms than healthy tissues. Depending on the metabolic activity the substances will accumulate in tumors to a different extent than in healthy body regions. These differences are clearly to be seen on the PET images.
Scans by CT can visualize a tumor in a three-dimensional image and exactly localize it. Even tumors of the size of a few millimeters size can be verified in a very early stage, which has not been possible in the past with other techniques.
Integrated whole-body PET/MRI combines positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in one medical device.
PSMA PET/CT in prostate cancer
PSMA PET/CT imaging will be used in cases of a suspected prostate cancer. A low dose of a radioactively marked substance will be given to the patient, PSMA or choline, which will accumulate in prostate cancer cells, so that the tumor cells appear as luminous dots on the PET image.
Simultaneously, CT visualizes the inside of a body in three dimensions. This examination serves to diagnose prostate cancer, particularly in case of rising PSA tumor markers with suspicion of a disease recurrence, in case of a suspected prostate cancer despite a negative biopsy, and in case of suspicion of lymph node or other organ metastases.
Whole-body Gallium-68 DOTATATE PET/CT
Certain tumor types, particularly neuroendocrine tumors, increasingly show specific structures on their surface (so-called somatostatin receptors), which can serve as diagnostic markers. This type of diagnosis mainly relates to tumors of the gastrointestinal tract, of lung and pancreas. For this procedure a slightly radioactive marked substance (Ga-68 DOTATATE) is used, which binds to the somatostatin receptors and can there be determined via PET (see above).
In this way the primary tumor as well as any possible metastases can be detected while at the same time it is also possible to evaluate the chances of a therapy. In this examination, PET is used to visualize a tumor’s metabolism and CT is used for a spatial localization (see PET/CT).