Imaging has become the cornerstone of modern cancer treatment. With advances
in imaging technology, treatment for cancer patients is far more accurate
and less invasive than in comparison to only a few years ago. Imaging
devices and procedures now aid physicians in the early screening, diagnosing
and staging of cancer. This gives you and a loved one the best chances
at catching the disease when it is most treatable.
The Cancer Institute at Torrance Memorial gives patients in the South Bay
community access to some of the most sophisticated imaging technology
Advanced Imaging, Outstanding Treatment
While imaging is not a treatment for cancer, the many applications of imaging
technology aid your cancer care team to determine the best possible treatment.
The advanced imaging systems available at Torrance Memorial are employed
routinely throughout your entire personalized treatment plan to assess
the effectiveness of the treatments you are receiving.
The following are some applications imaging available at Torrance Memorial:
Imaging is used to help detect cancer when outward symptoms may not be
visible. The most familiar use of imaging in screening procedures may
be mammograms to detect breast cancer, though imagining technology is
used to screen for some other cancers. In addition to routine screening,
e.g., yearly mammogram for women over age 40, your physician might also
order a cancer screening if you are in a higher risk group for cancer
or exhibit symptoms which indicate the possibly presence of cancer.
Diagnosis and Staging
Torrance Memorial uses imaging technology extensively in the diagnosis
of cancer. In the case of biopsies - particularly core-needle biopsies
- imaging technology is used to insure accuracy and limit invasiveness.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, imaging can be used to
find the precise location of the tumor in your body, the extent of the
cancer and if it has metastasized to other parts of the body. Knowing
the size and location of cancer in the body helps the treatment team determine
the cancer's stage, or extent of disease in the body, and this information
helps the treatment team determine the most appropriate and most effective
treatment for your particular cancer.
During surgical procedures or radiation therapy, imaging technology is
used to focus treatment directly to a cancer site. In the case of surgery,
this may involve several imaging procedures prior to surgery. These steps
insure the least amount of damage to surrounding tissues during a procedure.
Similarly, imaging devices are often used in the application of radiation
therapy. Imaging allows radiation therapists to focus a beam of radiation
on a tumor while sparing exposure to surrounding tissues.
Following surgery and during other treatments such as chemotherapy and
radiation therapy, imaging procedures help your cancer care team assess
the progress and effectiveness of your treatment, including how much cancer
it has eliminated.
Once you or a family member has defeated cancer and moved into remission,
imaging is used regularly to monitor your health and assure you remain
cancer free. Your team at Torrance Memorial will guide you through a schedule
of imaging procedures over the years following your cancer, remaining
your partner in continued health.
Graziadio Radiology Center and Polak Imaging Pavilion
Home to highly advanced imaging technology, the Graziadio Radiology Center
and Polak Imaging Pavilion at Torrance Memorial provides your cancer care
team with the tools to best screen for, diagnosis and treat the disease.
- Both facilities are operated by variety of expert radiologists, technologists,
nurses and staff. As a crucial part of your cancer care team, each member
is specifically trained in the devices and procedures to assure accuracy
The Graziadio Radiology Center is located on the ground floor adjacent
the medical center's Emergency Department. A reception area and seating
is available for patients and visitors awaiting an outpatient test or
Parking is available in the East Parking Structure accessible from Lomita
The Polak Imaging Pavilion houses many of the advanced imaging devices
available for cancer screening and treatment - most especially the Vasek
& Anna Maria Polak Breast Diagnostic Center dedicated to woman's health.
Parking is available in the lot accessible from Skypark Drive.
Breast Diagnostic Center
The Vasek & Anna Maria Polak Breast Diagnostic Center at Torrance Memorial has taken a leadership role in the care of women's
health since 1986 with its service to the South Bay community and beyond.
Designed for the specific needs and comfort of women, the Breast Diagnostic
Center and satellite offices serving Carson, Manhattan Beach, and Rolling
Hills Estates are staffed with compassionate experts trained specifically
in breast health and breast cancer diagnosis. The Breast Diagnostic Center
also offers osteoporosis screening.
Imaging Systems and Procedures
Depending on what type of cancer you are being screened or treated for,
there exist a number of different imaging technologies for your cancer
care team may use. The Cancer Center offers the several of the most advanced
imaging systems and procedures available.
The most familiar type of imaging, x-rays are used for more than checking
broken bones. This foundation imaging technology is still used in a range
of applications to screen for and diagnose cancer. Most commonly, low-dose
x-rays are employed in mammography for breast cancer screening. Chest
x-rays are also commonly used to see if cancer has spread to the lungs.
Formerly produced as film, these images - known as radiographs - are now
processed digitally and viewed on a computer, which results in a clearer
image, less material wastage and easier duplication of images for transport.
An advanced x-ray procedure, CT scans give radiologists and other members
of your cancer care team a three-dimensional view of a suspected tumor
location. Known technically as computed tomography, CT scans work by taking
numerous cross sectional images of your body. These images - called "slices"
- are merged and enhanced by a computer to produce a three-dimensional
image. This highly detailed view of the body's internal tissues and
structures gives your physicians valuable insight into how a tumor is
situated, how far it has spread, and the treatment options available.
CT scans are very effective at imaging the inside of the chest, abdomen
and pelvis. CT scans can be done without contrast material, or with IV
and/or oral contrast material, depending on the type of cancer and location
of the tumor in the body.
Taking the practice of radiology a step further, a PET scan creates a live
computer model of chemical changes taking place in tissue. Know technically
as a positron emission tomography scan, PET scans use a small glucose-based
radioactive IV injection that is absorbed by a tumor. During a 45-60 minutes
procedure where a patient must lay very still, the PET scanning device
travels the length of your body several times, creating a live study of
the tissues and possible tumor. Since tumor cells are more metabolically
active than normal tissue, the malignant tissue tends to take up more
of the glucose injection, so cancerous cells demonstrate an enhanced appearance
on the image, which is three dimensional. The result is information on
the size, location and spread of a tumor.
Utilizing sophisticated computer software, the latest version of CT and
PET scanning combines and cross-references the images to produce an image
that is even more detailed than either image performed independently.
Using a field of magnetic and radio waves, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
gives your cancer care team a three-dimensional image of the body, including
soft tissues and suspected tumors. MRI technology produces very detailed
images and doesn't use radiation in the traditional sense. MRI technology
is used by the Cancer Center at Torrance Memorial for screening, guidance
during biopsy and to evaluate the progress of treatment. Because MRI uses
magnetic energy, patients with a cardiac pacemaker cannot have this type
of scan. Also, because MRI uses an IV injection of contrast material that
is removed through the kidneys, patients with impaired kidney function
may not be able to undergo MRI. MRI is performed with the patient laying
inside a slender metal "tube," just big enough to surround the
body. Although the ends of the tube are open, some patients experience
a sense of claustrophobia. Torrance Memorial also has an open MRI machine
but the image that is produced is somewhat less detailed compared to a
Using ultra high frequency sound waves, ultrasound offers patients a noninvasive
imaging technique to screen for and diagnose cancer. The frequencies produced
by ultrasound devices reflect off of internal tissues, which produce computer
images with great detail. Your cancer care team may use ultrasound during
screening, as a guide during biopsy or during treatment to assess effectiveness
Used to screen women for breast cancer, digital mammograms employ low-dose
x-rays to find abnormalities in the breast long before they are large
enough to be felt. With consistent screening, a radiologist is able to
compare a patient's results with prior breast imaging records to find
cancer at its earliest and most treatable stages. All the mammography
machines at the Vasek & Anna Maria Polak Breast Diagnostic Centers
utilize digital technology which produces a much clearer and more detailed
breast image compared to older film technology.
As breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, and the risk for the
disease rises with age, it is recommended all women over the age of 40
receive a yearly mammogram.
For more information regarding the use of digital mammography in screening
for breast cancer, please visit the
Torrance Memorial Breast Diagnostic Center.
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