Radiation Oncology Diagnostic Services

Much in the way that a radiologist can use an x-ray to diagnose a broken arm, a radiation oncologist can use all sorts of imaging devices to diagnose cancer.

The radiation oncology program at UPMC Hillman CancerCenter includes a variety of diagnostic and treatment planning methods.

PET-CT Based Cancer Treatment Planning

PET-CT is a powerful scan that provides excellent diagnostic accuracy for many types of cancer.

It combines two advanced imaging techniques:

  • PET (positron emission tomography) highlights the presence of cancer cells and takes precise images of tumors.
  • CT (computed tomography) produces a 3D, 360° view of the body.

By combining the images from the two scanning methods, radiation oncologists can create a complete picture of the tumor’s location, size, and shape.

Your doctor can then use the results of your scan to plan your cancer treatment.

4D PET-CT and 4D CT Scans for Diagnosing Cancer

4D PET-CT produces fast, highly accurate images of tumors in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.

It's able to capture the movement of your organs and tumor over time. It also records the metabolism of the tumor.

This lets the oncologist see the makeup and function of your tumor and plan for the most effective radiation treatment with the least side effects.

4D CT uses advanced technology that's faster and more accurate than traditional CT imaging scans.

4D CT captures images that pinpoint the location of the tumor. It also records the tumor's movement and the movement of your body’s organs over time.

This allows the oncologist to design more accurate treatments for moving tumors by better targeting the radiation within a certain interval in the breathing cycle.

On-Board Imager® (OBI)* and Cone-Beam CT

On-Board Imager® (OBI) and Cone-Beam CT (CBCT) allow radiation oncologists to image your tumor right before your treatment. This ensures that you and the tumor are at the same position as originally planned.

OBI produces 2D images and CBCT produces 3D images to localize the tumor and optimize the accuracy of your treatment.

Both of these imaging technologies are part of image-guided radiotherapy.

Functional Imaging

Since tumors aren't solid and may mix with healthy tissue as they grow, this makes planning effective radiation treatment a challenge.

Most imaging techniques focus on finding a tumor's location in the body, but functional imaging captures the composition and chemical activity of the tumor — not just its location.

It combines PET or functional MRI with other imaging methods — such as CT or MRI — to get a complete picture of the tumor. This allows the use of higher levels of radiation to treat the more active areas of the tumor safely.

Contact the Radiation Oncology Program at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

To learn more about radiation therapy at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, please call us at 412-647-2811.

*On-Board Imager is a trademark of Varian Medical Systems, Inc.