May 18
11:53 2017

Radiology is a
specialized branch of medicine that focuses on imaging tests to diagnose and
treat diseases. Imaging tests allow doctors to look inside the body as images
are formed with the use of sound waves, radiation waves, or magnetic resonance.
Some of the most common imaging tests include x-rays, CT scans, magnetic
resonance tests, and ultrasounds. These tests are useful for doctors and do not
cause any discomfort or pain for patients. While these tests vary in how long
it takes to complete them, they are non-invasive and generally quick tests only
lasting a few minutes.

Radiology is a growing and competitive field. New computer science technology
is constantly changing and advancing the radiology field. Radiologist are often
at the top of their medical school class. To become a radiologist, 13 years of
post high school education is needed. After 4 years of medical school, 5 years
of post-graduate training is required. The first post-graduate year is usually
spent at internships and rotating around other hospitals or laboratories
gaining experience. Four years of diagnostic radiology residency takes place
during the remaining years of post-graduate training. The radiology resident must
pass a test given by the medical physics board covering the science and
technology of imaging tests such as ultrasounds, x-rays, CT scans and other
imaging tests. Upon completion of residency training, radiologist can either
begin their practice or enter a specialty field in radiology. Specialty fields
in radiology include thoracic imaging, abdominal imaging, pediatric imaging,
and women’s imaging among many others.

Imaging tests are a huge part of diagnosing and treating cancer. Once imaging
tests are completed, a trained radiologists will interpret the images and write
a report. The radiologist will send the report to a patient’s main doctor.
Copies of the report will likely also be sent to an oncologist and surgeon as
they are all important factors in surviving cancer.

How are imaging tests used to diagnose
and treat cancer?

Computed Tomography Tests (CT
scans) use energy beams to shoot radiation through a patient’s body. The energy
beams can create detailed images from inside the body. Because CT scans use
computers to create images, the images created can be much clearer than
standard x-rays and even enlarged on a computer. CT scans create image
“slices” of the body, meaning the machine used can take many pictures
and put them together to form one image. CT scans can locate a tumor and
determine it’s size. CT scans can even locate the veins that are feeding the
cancerous tumor without ever having to make any incisions in the patient. CT
scan procedures can be repeated over a period of time to track the growth of a
tumor and see how it is responding to treatment.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging
(MRI) tests are similar to CT scans but they use
magnetic forces to create images of the body rather than radiation beams.
Images of organs and tissues are taken from all angles during an MRI, giving
doctors the best possible view of an area. MRIs are especially useful for
locating brain tumors. Contrast can be added to MRI images which allows tumors
in the brain to be classified as benign or malignant. Other sites MRI tests are
useful for finding tumors is the spinal cord, head, neck, bones, and muscles.
MRIs have become the most common way to examine a female’s uterus while
checking for uterine cancer. MRIs are also important for determining whether
cancer has metastasized from one site to another. The entire process is about
45 minutes, longer than most other imaging tests.

use sound waves to create images of the insides of a patient.
Images created by ultra sounds are called sonograms. The tool that produces the
sound waves that run through a patient’s body is called a transducer. The
transducer usually is rubbed along the surface of the skin but in some cases it
is inserted in the esophagus, vagina, or rectum. Ultrasounds are effective
because sound waves can produce images after they bounce off of tissues and
organs. The image created on a sonogram from a sound wave that bounced off of a
tumor is different from the image created from bouncing off of healthy tissue.
Ultrasounds are useful for differentiating between a tumor and a non-cancerous
cyst. The echo patterns that create a sonogram are different when sound is
bounced off a solid mass such as a tumor versus the image created when sound
bounces off a fluid filled cyst. However, ultrasounds are not effecting in
differentiating between a benign tumor and a malignant tumor.

Imaging tests are welcomed by patients who do not like or want to have
operations involving any incisions. Imaging tests are non-invasive and
relatively quick processes. Doctors find imaging tests useful for tracking
tumors, monitoring the spread of cancer and finding out how a tumor is
responding to medication such as chemotherapy. With modern technology
constantly improving, imaging tests are improving with it. Along with biopsies,
imaging tests play a necessary role in treating and diagnosing cancer.

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