Cancer Services

Overview

Cancer that is diagnosed at an early stage responds to treatment more effectively. Mecklenburg Radiology Associates, along with our hospital and imaging partners, provides the latest in cancer imaging with state-of-the-art PET/CT, breast MRI, body MRI, CT and new procedures, such at CT colonoscopy, a non-invasive way to screen for colon cancer.

Cancer Imaging

At MRA we offer the most advanced technologies to diagnose and monitor treatment for all forms of cancer including lung, breast, prostate, and colon cancers. Our state-of-the-art technologies include all conventional imaging techniques, as well as cutting edge technologies like 3T MRI evaluation of prostate cancer, and investigational PET/CT protocols. We work closely with your physicians in numerous clinical conferences, multidisciplinary clinics, second opinion clinics for breast, lung and urologic cancers, a pulmonary nodule follow-up clinic, and the ELCAP lung cancer screening trial. We offer CT colongraphy at multiple sites around Charlotte. Ask about our one stop screening programs for cancer.

Cancer that is diagnosed at an early stage responds to treatment more effectively. Mecklenburg Radiology Associates, along with our hospital and imaging partners, provides the latest in cancer imaging with state-of-the-art PET/CT, breast MRI, body MRI, CT and new procedures, such at CT colonoscopy, a non-invasive way to screen for colon cancer.

CT Colonoscopy

"CT Colonoscopy is a simple, non-invasive examination to evaluate the colon for polyps and tumors. Its widespread use could really increase the number of patients who are screened. We could save a lot of lives because we would be finding colonic problems far earlier and in greater numbers."
- Shawn P. Qullin, MD, Mecklenburg Radiology Associates

Physicians recommend that every adult over age 50 should have a colonoscopy to check for polyps, which can be removed before cancer has a chance to develop. Screening guidelines call for the test to be repeated every seven to 10 years. Those at higher risk – family history of polyps or colon cancer, diagnosed polyps or blood in the stool - should be screened every five years. One of the newest methods of screening for colon cancer, is what is called virtual colonoscopy or CT colonoscopy. This exam, uses CT technology to look inside the colon, providing images that are comparable to a traditional invasive colonoscopy. CT colonoscopy can show polyps, lesions and other problems inside the colon or large intestines.

Using CT technology to provide three-dimensional images, the radiologist can see details inside the bowel that are similar to what is seen during a traditional colonoscopy. A traditional colonoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure performed under light sedation while an endoscopy travels through the colon and takes pictures. CT colonoscopy does not require any medications or an endoscope, but uses air, which is induced into the colon. The air helps open up the colon to give an unobstructed view.

The exam is especially helpful in patients who do not want a more invasive exam, older adults who may not tolerate the traditional procedure and patients who are at risk for complications from colonoscopy due to a health problem. CT colonography is also a less invasive option for patients who do not wish to have colonoscopy, which involves inserting a flexible tube into the colon to view the bowel wall.

Positive Emission Tomography (PET)/Computerized Tomography (CT)

PET and CT allow radiologists to pinpoint the location of cancer within the body, identify damaged heart tissue and uncover brain disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and epilepsy. PET, which is performed using an injected radiopharmaceutical that gives off recordable emissions, scans and records the metabolic signals of aggressively growing cancer cells in the body. CT scan provides a thorough picture of the internal anatomy that reveals the size and shape of abnormal cancerous growths. When combined, a PET/CT provides the most complete information on cancer location and metastasis better than any other imaging study. Physicians order the test to uncover a suspected cancer that has not been shown using more conventional modalities, to stage cancer, monitor treatment and determine if a treatment is working.

PET is also used to evaluate blood flow to the heart and diagnose coronary artery disease, determine if heart tissue is alive after a heart attack and predict if an angioplasty or bypass surgery would be beneficial. PET scans are also helpful in diagnosing patients with memory disorders by showing biological changes that are identified as Alzheimer's Disease.

Presbyterian Healthcare offers one of the most advanced outpatient PET/CT facilities in the region. The state-of-the-art GE Discovery DST four-slice scanner provides the most advanced diagnostic technology available for cancer, neurology and cardiology patients. Click here for more information.

Breast MRI

"Breast MRI is amazing technology. We are approaching a time when it will be more routinely used in evaluation of women with or at risk for breast cancer. Mecklenburg Radiology Associates is already prepared for this as we supervise a network of breast MRI scanners across the greater Charlotte area that offer the highest possible quality scans. We also have a group of physicians trained to interpret breast MRI from some the best training programs in the country, including Penn, Stanford, Duke and Washington University in St. Louis."
- Eric Insko, MD, Radiologist, Mecklenburg Radiology Associates

MRI is a non-invasive way of looking into the body without the use of x-ray. Instead, it uses magnets and radio waves to create images. Breast MRI combines state-of-the-art three-dimensional imaging with computer-aided detection (CAD) to look deep into the breast to uncover abnormalities. While breast MRI is not a replacement for mammography or ultrasound imaging, it is a very helpful tool in evaluating patients with very high known genetic risks for breast cancer and in:

Imaging dense breasts often found in younger women and those with fibrocystic breast changes when mammography and ultrasound fail to detect or characterize a palpable abnormality

  • Determining the extent of a known cancer. MRI is the most sensitive and specific method for complete local staging of breast cancer.
  • Differentiating between surgical scar and recurrent cancer in patients who have already been treated for breast cancer
  • Identifying mammographically occult cancer in high-risk patients
  • Evaluating response to cancer treatment

Breast MRI does not take the place of screening mammograms, as recommended by the American College of Radiology and American Society of Breast Surgeons. Women who have breast MRI should continue to have an annual mammogram.

Prostate Cancer MRI

View our Prostate Cancer MRI page for full details about how MRA is bringing you the latest technology in the fight against prostate cancer.

Cancer Therapy

It's estimated that 1.4 million people in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year. The most common cancers in adults– lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers – can be diagnosed through imaging and treated more successfully if found in the early stages. According to the American Cancer Society, there are seven warning signs of cancer that people should recognize and talk to their physicians if noticed. They are:

  • A change in bowel or bladder habits
  • A sore that does not heal
  • Unusual bleeding or discharge from any place
  • A lump in the breast or other parts of the body
  • Chronic indigestion or difficulty in swallowing
  • Obvious changes in a wart or mole
  • Persistent coughing or hoarseness

Mecklenburg Radiology Associates uses a variety of imaging – x-ray, mammography, CT scan, MRI, ultrasound and PET/CT to diagnose cancers, and offers state-of-the-art, innovative cancer therapies to treat liver cancer.

Radiofrequency (RF) Ablation

Radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive procedure for patients who have either a hepatocellar carcinoma (primary liver tumor) or a colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver. A specialty trained radiologist performs the procedure which delivers heat to the liver tumors to destroy the cancer, while sparing nearby liver tissue. Using CT or ultrasound guidance, the radiologist threads a needle electrode to the tumor site, where radiofrequency current is directed at the tumor. The heat ablates the tumor and seals the site to control bleeding. This outpatient procedure is often recommended in patients who are not good candidates for surgery. In patients where the tumor is too large for surgery or there is limited access for surgery, radiofrequency ablation is an effective treatment. The procedure is also a next step for patients who have failed to respond to chemotherapy or surgery.

Chemoembolization

Another effective way to treat either a primary or secondary liver cancer is by delivering chemotherapy directly into the cancer cells. Using x-rays to visualize the liver, a specially trained radiologist inserts a catheter into an artery in the groin and guides it to the artery adjacent to the liver. Chemotherapy is injected into the tumor where it cuts off the blood flow to the cancer cells, depriving the tumor of oxygen and nutrients to survive. Chemoembolization delivers a one-two punch, by directing chemotherapy into the tumor and containing the drugs at the site to block the blood supply that feeds the tumor. Chemoembolization spares the rest of the body from the effects of chemotherapy. It is often used as a first-line treatment for smaller tumors of the liver or used in conjunction with surgery or radiation.

 


February 2013

CT Calcium Scoring

Dr. Erik Insko explains how a CT calcium score might save your life.

January 2013

New Open MRI Scanner at Presbyterian Orthopedic Hospital

Dr. Kevin Carroll explains how the new High-Field True Open Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine works.

More than 30 Highly Trained Radiologists and 10 Physician Assistants on Staff