Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic Imaging

Cancer can be difficult to detect, and some cancers may go undiagnosed because no obvious symptoms are present.

It is important to find these cancers early in order to provide the most effective treatments. There are many imaging techniques that can provide early detection, giving cancer patients a better chance at conquering the disease. In addition, imaging can also help determine precise location, size and type of tumor, so that more directed treatment options may be pursued.

At the University of Virginia Cancer Center, our expert radiologists are equipped with the latest technologies for detecting disease and directing treatment. Some imaging techniques are specialized for detecting certain types of cancer, such as Colonoscopy for GI cancers and Mammography for breast cancer. Other imaging techniques, such as CT scan and MRI are able to detect a wide variety of cancers. Some Imaging techniques offered at UVa Health System are linked below.


A CT scanner is a special x-ray machine combined with a computer that produces cross-sectional images or "slices" of any part of your head or body. Unlike a standard "flat" x-ray image where some structures block others, a CT scan shows structures within each slice on a three-dimensional plane. As a result, the doctor who views a CT scan can see your entire anatomy. 


A mammogram is a highly sensitive x-ray of the breast using very low levels of radiation. The purpose of a mammogram is to detect breast cancer at its earliest stages, before it can be felt or cause symptoms. A mammogram may also be done to check a lump or a change in your breast. 


An MRI is an imaging machine that uses a large magnet, a computer, and radio waves to look inside the body and to evaluate various body parts, such as the brain, neck, spine, abdomen, etc. 


PET stands for Positron Emission Tomography, and PET-CT is the combination of two imaging techniques in one exam – a PET scan and a CT scan.  The PET scan provides unique information about your body on a cellular level while a CT scan offers anatomic information.  

Virtual Colonoscopy

Virtual Colonoscopy is a sophisticated technique using a combination of a CT scanner, powerful digital processing, virtual reality computer software, and a computer workstation to look inside the body without having to insert a long tube into the colon (conventional colonoscopy) or having to fill the colon with liquid barium (barium enema). 

Check out UVaHealth.com for more information about Diagnostic Imaging.