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September 9, 2009 > The Evolution of Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

The Evolution of Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Free Seminar Focuses on Latest Advancements in Diagnostic Imaging, Cancer Therapy

The good news about cancer treatment - and the field of medicine in general - is that advances take place almost every day. A cancer that may have been considered virtually untreatable a decade ago may now have many viable treatment options.

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, from 1 to 3 p.m., two Washington Hospital Medical Staff physicians will share their expertise during a free Health & Wellness seminar, "Latest Treatment for Cancer/Innovations in Diagnostic Radiology."

Dr. Mimi Lin, who specializes in diagnostic radiology, will review the role diagnostic imaging plays in cancer treatment through early detection. She will give a brief history of radiology and then discuss the cutting edge technologies now available to diagnose many types of cancer more quickly and accurately while also providing a greater depth of image detail.

To explain the evolution in radiology in recent years, Dr. Lin uses the analogy of the migration from film to digital technology for photography.

"As film camera technology has advanced to digital imaging, so too has radiology moved into the digital realm," she says. "Digital technology allows for improved storage and portability of the data. Image manipulation can also be done to correct some images, which negates the need to repeat an image."

This boils down to more convenience for the patient by reducing the chances of having to sit for additionally imagery if the first diagnostic images do not capture exactly what the radiologist intended. The digital aspect of radiology also makes for faster transport and review of images. The radiologist can quickly review the images and send their report to a patient's treating physician for immediate follow-up.

Especially in recent years, the field of diagnostic radiology has become a pivotal piece of the cancer treatment puzzle.

"In radiology, we can help to make a diagnosis by identifying abnormalities and even doing a biopsy to get a tissue diagnosis," Dr. Lin explains. "Once a diagnosis is made, imaging can help demonstrate the extent of disease, which affects treatment options. Imaging can also monitor the patient's response to treatments."

During her talk, Dr. Lin will cover a wide range of diagnostic imaging technology, including:
* Computed Tomography (CT)
* Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
* Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
* Ultrasound
* Mammography
* Interventional radiology
- Image-guided biopsies
- Focused therapies

As far as the types of cancers that can be diagnosed using diagnostic radiology techniques, Dr. Lin says the diagnostic capabilities are vast.

"Lung cancer is the most common cancer among men and women," she explains. "Breast cancer in women is the next most common. We also see lymphoma and cancers that have spread. Diagnostic radiology is not usually the primary means of diagnosing colon cancer, and we have difficulty making an early diagnosis of pancreatic and ovarian cancer."

Ultimately, Dr. Lin says she wants those who attend the seminar to walk away with a sense of hope associated with a rapidly evolving technology that improves treatment outcomes by helping to reach a diagnosis quickly so that treatment can begin early.

"Although radiology can be associated with bad news, it is an important tool for making diagnoses of many diseases, including cancers," she says. "Radiology helps to define the extent of disease, which directly influences treatments. Imaging is also used to monitor the response of diseases to therapies. Additionally, interventional radiology can be a treatment tool for some cancers."

Dr. Michael Bastasch, a Washington Hospital Medical Staff radiation oncologist, will discuss some of the latest advancements in cancer treatment in relation to radiation therapy, including the applicability and side effects relating to new biological agents that are being used in conjunction with radiation therapy.

"I'm going to talk about these new biological agents and how they're applicable to the treatment of cancer," he says.

Dr. Bastasch notes that many people, when they hear that new medications have become available, will believe that the new drug is a cure for cancer. He puts forth a more accurate approach to viewing new treatments.

"This talk will focus on the role that these biological agents play in the overall treatment of a patient," he notes. "Some people might get the idea that a particular drug is a lifesaver, but it's not; it's one drug we can use to treat you. I will discuss the efficacy of these agents when combined with radiation therapy."

The nature radiation therapy makes it a valuable tool in the treatment of many different types of cancer.

"Radiation can go to any part of the body," Dr. Bastasch explains. "It's very universally applicable because people aren't allergic to it, so to speak."

Advancements in cancer diagnosis and treatment

To hear more from Dr. Lin and Dr. Bastasch about diagnosis and treatment of cancer, join them for their talk, which will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 22, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, Rooms A & B, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

To register for the seminar, call (800) 963-7070.

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