Finding out that you have cancer of an unknown primary can be confusing. Fortunately, medical imaging can be helpful in tracking the original location of these kinds of cancers in order for doctors to make more informed decisions about treatments. If you have received this diagnosis, your doctor may send you to an imaging center in San Antonio for a PET scan or other imaging tests in order to learn more about your disease. Here are the answers to some questions you may have about your diagnosis.
What is cancer of an unknown primary?
In most cases, cancers are named for the organ in which they began. For instance, if you have cancer that starts in your throat, it will be referred to as throat cancer, even if it spreads to other parts of the body. In this instance, throat cancer is the primary cancer. With cancer of an unknown primary, doctors are not sure where the cancer began. Although your doctor may know that the cancer is in multiple parts of your body, he or she cannot determine what organ was the primary location. Knowing the primary location of a cancer can be important in making decisions about treatments.
How can the primary location be found?
There are a number of tests your doctor may order to find the primary location of your cancer. Biopsies, which allow your doctor to see the cancer cells, can be helpful, as can blood tests. Medical imaging can also play an important role. Doctors can look at how cancer is developing and behaving to help them find the primary location.
Can the primary location always be found?
Sometimes, the starting point of cancer of an unknown primary cannot be found. If the primary location is not found, doctors will build a treatment plan using the information they do have about your cancer. As with other forms of cancer, cancer of an unknown primary may be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, targeted and hormone therapies, and other medications.
If you are suffering from chronic sinus infections and bloody noses, or if your doctor thinks you could have an injury, structural defect, or illness affecting your sinuses, he or she may refer you for a CT scan in San Antonio of your sinuses. If you’ve never had this kind of medical imaging test before, you may be wondering what to expect. Here is what you need to know.
Preparing for Your Scan
In some cases, it may not be necessary to do anything to prepare for the scan. If the imaging center will be using contrast dye for your scan, you may be asked to avoid eating or drinking anything for a set period of time. Be sure to verify with the imaging center before the day of your scan, to avoid any delays. If you have had an allergic reaction to contrast dye in the past or have a shellfish allergy, you should also let the imaging center know, as you may need to take a medication to prevent any potential reaction from occurring. You may also need to take precautions or avoid contrast if you have kidney problems or if you take the medication metformin.
During the Scan
If you are receiving contrast dye, it will be injected via a vein in your arm through an IV. You may feel a pinch from the needle. The contrast can cause a metallic taste in your mouth and may sting for a few seconds. For the scan, your radiologist will position you on a table, which is then moved into the scanner machine. The scanner will use X-ray beams to take images of your sinuses. The scan takes about 30 seconds, and you will need to be as still as possible to avoid blurry images.
After the Scan
Once the scan is complete, you can resume your normal activities right away. You should not have any side effects from the scan. The physician who ordered the test will contact you with the results when they are available.
It’s common for a man’s prostate gland to enlarge as he grows older. This doesn’t always indicate prostate cancer. However, if a doctor determines that your prostate gland is enlarged, such as during a digital rectal exam, he or she may request further testing—just in case. You may be referred to an imaging center in San Antonio, where a radiology specialist can perform an ultrasound exam of your prostate gland.
How Ultrasound Exams Work
These imaging exams are safe and painless. Ultrasound exams use sound waves to create real-time images of the internal structures like the prostate. The sound waves are emitted by a handheld device, called a transducer. The transducer detects the sound waves as they bounce back, and then sends this information to a computer. Advanced software uses the information to generate images. For some exams, the radiology professional moves the transducer around on top of the skin, which is covered in gel. But for prostate exams, a transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) is needed.
How You Should Prepare
The imaging center will give you any needed instructions to prepare for your appointment. If you take blood-thinning medications, you might be asked to temporarily discontinue them. If the radiologist needs to take a biopsy, discontinuing blood-thinners will prevent excessive bleeding. Since you’ll be having a transrectal ultrasound, you may be asked to use an enema about 2 to 4 hours prior to your appointment.
What You Can Expect
You’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown and lie on the exam table on your side, with your knees drawn up. After placing a disposable cover on the transducer, the radiologist adds lubrication and inserts it into the rectum. You may experience some discomfort, but the exam won’t be painful. The radiologist may insert a needle into your prostate gland under the guidance of the real-time ultrasound images to take a small sample of tissue for testing. A TRUS exam does not take very long, and you’ll be able to get back to your usual activities right away.
Imaging centers in San Antonio can perform PET scans to detect cancer, and monitor its progression or treatment. This medical imaging test can also allow doctors to monitor blood flow to the heart. When you watch this video, you’ll see a simple animation that explains the technology behind PET scans.
PET scans, or positron emission tomography tests, involve the introduction of radioactive tracers into the body. These tracers bind to certain sugars or proteins. The radioactive isotope produces positrons. As these positrons interact with electrons, both of these particles are destroyed and 2 photons are released. The PET scanner detects the photons and uses advanced software to create 3D images with this information.
If your doctor refers you for a CT scan in San Antonio , you may be wondering what to expect. This medical imaging test can be useful in diagnosing a number of bone and soft tissue issues and may also be used to track the effectiveness of a treatment you are already receiving.
Watch this video to learn more about CT scan technology. CTs use the same technology as X-rays, but rather than taking an image from one direction, they create cross-sectional images. During a CT, the staff at the imaging center will position you on a table so that the X-ray beam can effectively reach the part of the body being evaluated, and the table will slide into a tube that lets the beam move in a circle, taking images from a variety of angles. Generally, the entire process takes about 30 minutes.
Mammograms can be lifesaving for women, but the imaging center you choose matters. At Concord Imaging, we combine cutting-edge technology and cost-effective pricing to give women the access to the most accurate mammography possible. If you are considering where to schedule your next mammogram, here are some of the reasons you should choose Concord Imaging in San Antonio.
Concord Imaging was the first provider in Bexar County to offer digital mammography. We use the Hologic Selenia Dimensions 3D Mammography system, which utilizes the most recent advancedtomographic images. This means that tissue overlap, which can hide abnormalities in less advanced imaging systems, is eliminated, so that you get the most accurate results possible. Using 3D technology, combined with the enhancement of digital imaging, also reduces the risk of false positive results and helps prevent needless biopsies and stress. Using this system, we strive to find breast cancer in its earliest stages, so that treatment is less invasive and more effective.
CT vs MRI: questions about these two types of medical scans are some of the most common ones heard by medical imaging professionals. Both of these options can be used to diagnose a wide range of injuries, abnormalities, and illnesses in the body, but they work using unique technologies and can provide different results. The time available and the purpose of the scan are two primary factors that lead doctors to order either a CT scan or an MRI. If you have questions about CT scans and MRIs, take a look at this infographic from Concord Imaging in San Antonio, TX . Please feel free to share this information with your family and friends.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive condition for which there is no cure, but early detection and treatment can greatly slow the development of the disease. In the past, diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease early has been difficult, but PET scan s are changing that. Thanks to this kind of medical imaging in San Antonio, early Alzheimer’s diagnosis is possible, which gives patients and their families more time to enjoy life without symptoms and to plan for future care needs.
PET scans are helpful in early Alzheimer’s diagnoses because they allow a radiologist to detect minute changes in the brain’s chemistry that are associated with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. By recognizing these changes, your doctor can begin treatments, often when symptoms are very minimal. Although the treatments cannot cure Alzheimer’s or ultimately stop it from worsening, early intervention can dramatically slow the progression of cognitive decline.
Medical imaging is part of life after cancer, but not surprisingly, it can be anxiety-provoking, so much so that there is a name for it: scanxiety. Although it is normal to experience some nervousness when you visit an imaging center in San Antonio for a body scan during your cancer recovery, there are several things you can do to ease your worry and make the process easier to manage.
Schedule a Follow-Up Appointment
Part of the anxiety that is associated with a scan is wondering when you are going to hear the results. Before you even attend your imaging center appointment, make an appointment with your doctor to review your scan results. You will feel more confident knowing that you have a plan to find out what your results are and that you know exactly when you will hear, instead of waiting for the phone to ring or checking your mail with baited breath every day. Your radiologist can also explain what happens to your scan after it is done and when your results should be ready so that it doesn’t seem like such a mystery.
Bring a Support System
When a scan is making you anxious, don’t suffer in silence. Whether you talk about your feelings with as many friends and family members as you can or just vent to one trusted person, let someone know how you are feeling. Bring a supportive loved one with you to your appointment, so you don’t have to face it alone. Consider making plans for after your appointment, such as getting lunch, going shopping, or going to the movies, so you have something to look forward to as a reward.
Ask for Help
For some people, getting a scan can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. Your oncologist knows how upsetting a scan can be and can offer help. He or she may be able to recommend support groups for cancer survivors and therapists who can help you manage your anxiety about having a scan.
Mammograms can be lifesaving for women, but if you are not sure what to expect, they can also be scary. In this video from Concord Imaging Center near San Antonio , you can learn exactly what to expect when you get a mammogram so that the experience is not intimidating.
Approximately one in eight women will get breast cancer in their lives, but early diagnosis through a mammogram can make breast cancer survivable. When you arrive at the imaging center, your mammographer will ask you questions about your breast health before performing the medical imaging exam. During the mammogram, your breasts will be compressed so that a clear image of the breast tissue can be taken. The compression only lasts for seconds, and while it may be uncomfortable, most women do not find it painful. Remember that your mammographer is committed to making the experience as easy for you as possible, so speak up if you have questions or are anxious about the procedure.
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