Diagnostic Imaging and Scanning


High-energy, ionizing, electromagnetic radiation that can be used at low doses to diagnose disease or show abnormalities. This is by far the most affordable and widely used form of diagnostic process. This is a common scan that is recommended for ACC patients to have done on their lungs at least annually to watch for any possible appearance of lung mets.       

CT Scan (CAT scan; Computed tomography)

A series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body taken from different angles. The pictures are created by a computer linked to a high dose x-ray machine with the patient placed inside a tubular shaped device. Traditionally the images obtained look like the typical X-ray but with much more detail, and are done in a series of “slices” with the width of each slice being typically 1 to 3cm. Newer technologies now allow the equipment to do a cylindrical scan, which produces a more extensive data base of 3D images which can be used to produce a wide range of final sets of images for the doctor requesting the scan. CT images are the most commonly used type of scan for imaging lungs and abdominal areas.


Patients can now view their own CT scans of their lungs by obtaining a copy of their scan on CD from their medical provider and running that CD on their PC. Generally the viewing software is on the CD and just takes some basic navigation learning to view. One of our members has provided a site where you can actually view a series of ACC patients lung met scans with explanations of growth, shrinkage and treatment results.    

To view a series of CT scan images of ACC lung mets with explanations    

MRI Scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

A diagnostic scanning device that uses a magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer to produce highly detailed images of the body. Signals emitted by normal and diseased tissue during the scans are assembled into multiple images from multiple scans that are each a thin "slice". MRI makes better images of organs and soft tissue than other scanning techniques, such as computed tomography (CT) or x-ray. MRI is typically used for imaging the head and neck areas, the brain, the spine, the soft tissue of joints, and the inside of bones. Both MRI and CT scans are used in planning radiation therapy.


PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography)

A PET scan allows physicians to measure the body's abnormal molecular cell activity to detect cancer tumors, brain disorders (such as Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease, and epilepsy), and heart disease (such as coronary artery disease). The process involves having the patient drink a special high glucose fluid with a traceable substance in it, which is metabolized into the body. Because cancer cells consume a relatively higher level of blood glucose than other tissue, the tumors will generally be more active then adjoining tissue when the scan is run. PET scans are simple and painless, offering patients and their families life-saving information that helps physicians detect and diagnose diseases early and quickly begin treatment. Also, they can be used in radiation treatment planning to help identify tumor tissue by the behavior of its cells, sometimes in cases where the tumor tissue is not visible on CT or MRI scan images. Because some ACC tumors are slower in metabolic rate than other tissues, they may not always show up in PET scans, thus providing a false negative. A PET scan is typically done in combination with a CT scan to provide more precise identification of tumor location relative to body structures such as bone or large organs.