In the imaging unit of the GCCC 360 Centre of Oncological Excellence we have the most advanced techniques to offer personalised solutions for the prevention, detection and diagnosis of cancer, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), mammography, ultrasound or radiology, among others.
These simple and painless techniques allow the patient’s body to be thoroughly examined for evidence of any abnormality. The specialist doctor determines the type of image to be requested, depending on the symptoms and the area of the body to be studied.
Rapid cancer diagnosis circuit
What is rapid cancer diagnosis?
Early diagnosis is a screening test that makes it possible to identify, within the general population, people who are affected by cancer or who have premalignant lesions not previously detected due to lack of symptoms and so try to improve their prognosis.
Screening is performed on people who are, in principle, healthy but in a risk group.
It is not a definitive diagnostic test, so people who test positive for screening should have reliable diagnostic tests to confirm the disease.
Why is early diagnosis so important?
From 30-50% of cancer cases can be prevented by developing healthier lifestyles and participating in screening programmes for the detection of possible tumours. Early diagnosis contributes to a decrease in the number of cases, as well as in mortality, mainly in breast, cervical and colon cancer.
Breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common tumour in women worldwide, with a particular incidence in women between the ages of 45 and 65. Breast cancer screening is the most widespread among the population of our country, and it is therefore possible to diagnose it at earlier stages, as a result of which it has been possible to reduce mortality significantly.
Colon cancer. Although colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death, with the highest number of cases recorded, if we consider both sexes together, it is one of the easiest to treat with an early diagnosis. Early diagnosis programmes are carried out by colonoscopy and allow a significant reduction in mortality from this disease.
Cancer of the cervix or cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in the world in women. Screening of healthy women using cervical cytology has clearly shown its effectiveness, since its appropriate and systematic application in certain countries has reduced the incidence and mortality of cervical cancer by 70-80%. In recent years, the incidence of cervical cancer is decreasing thanks to vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV).
Prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common malignancy in men after skin cancer.
Early detection allows its cure and minimises the sequelae of its treatment. Because of this, screening in healthy men is essential.
What is radiology?
Radiology is a diagnostic imaging technique for detecting various diseases using X-rays, a form of electromagnetic radiation that allows images to be generated of tissues and structures in the body. It is an essential technique for detecting certain types of cancer such as bone and lung cancer.
How is it done?
The radiological technique is rapid and painless and does not require any special preparation to perform it, except in some cases where contrast studies are required. These involve an early preparation consisting of administration of a contrast medium that highlights certain parts of the body and makes them more clearly visible on the X-ray. This procedure may cause some discomfort and rarely side effects.
X-ray examination is performed in the radiology room where the X-ray technician places the patient in the most appropriate position to perform the examination of the desired area. Subsequently, during exposure, the patient is placed in the booth and should remain still as movement can cause blurred images. In some cases, it may be necessary to hold your breath.
What is an ultrasound?
An ultrasound is an imaging test performed using an ultrasound machine, a device that emits high-frequency sound waves. There are essentially two types of ultrasound, the ultrasound in pregnancy used to examine the foetus and the diagnostic medical ultrasound, whereby, with the help of a computer, real-time images are obtained of organs, tissues, and even moving parts of the body, such as the beating heart or blood flowing through blood vessels.
Ultrasound is a technique often used as a guiding tool in tumour biopsies and to help distinguish between fluid-filled cyst and a tumour.
In certain tumours, especially in the liver and pancreas, a type of special ultrasound called an echo-Doppler ultrasound is used to help determine if the tumour has affected the blood vessels.
Despite being a very useful technique, ultrasound is sometimes less accurate than CT or MRI in some areas of the body, such as bones, because waves are not as effective.
What is a mammogram?
Mammography is a breast imaging technique that uses low-dose X-rays to look for signs of breast cancer in its early stages. There are two types of mammograms:
- Screening mammogram. This is a test done preventatively in women who have no signs or symptoms of breast cancer. It allows early detection of breast cancer and start of treatment before it spreads, promoting a reduction in breast cancer mortality.
- Diagnostic mammogram. This test is done in patients who have a lump or other signs or symptoms of a possible breast cancer. A mammogram, along with other tests, helps determine the malignancy or benign nature of the tumour.
How is it done?
The patient stands in front of a special X-ray machine in which the technician will help her place the breast on a plate that he/she will then cover with another plate that will exert a gradual compression on the breast, until obtaining the thickness necessary for the image quality to be correct. This process is repeated to take an image of the side of the breast and is done on both breasts.
The total duration of the examination is approximately 10 minutes.
What are the risks of a mammogram?
A mammogram can be an uncomfortable and even painful process for some women, especially if they have a period or are about to have one. Although the mammogram lasts only a few minutes and the discomfort disappears soon, please feel free to tell our technicians about any discomfort you may feel during the test.
A mammogram is a test that can be done safely during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but both conditions can make it difficult for a radiologist to read a mammogram, due to the change in the breasts. Depending on the reason for requesting the test, it is often advisable to postpone it.
What is a CT scan?
Computed tomography – CT or CT scan – is a test that allows complete imaging of the organs to be scanned by processing different body planes on the computer, thanks to the emission of X-rays from various angles.
CT is a fast, painless, non-invasive and highly accurate diagnostic test for cancer detection and decision-making, as it can show the shape, size and location of a tumour, and even the blood vessels that feed it.
It is also a high-precision method to guide specialists in performing biopsies or radiofrequency ablation techniques, in which heat is used to destroy a tumour.
How is it done?
The device in which a CT scan is carried out, called a CT tomograph or scanner, is shaped like a toroid (doughnut-shaped) and inside it has a table for the patient, which moves according to the area to be scanned.
This test, unlike nuclear magnetic resonance, usually does not cause claustrophobia, as the patient does not stay inside a closed space, nor does it cause annoying noises during the examination session.
3 Tesla MRI (magnetic resonance)
What is an MRI?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a high-precision diagnostic imaging test that enables internal visualisation of specific areas of the body to help specialists detect cancer, identify signs of spread, and plan a treatment approach. If contrast is used, MRI is the most effective technique for detecting certain tumours, such as brain or spinal cord tumours.
This is a very safe test since the patient does not receive ionising radiation, unlike conventional X-ray and computed tomography (CT) examinations.
How is it done?
MRI machines are large tube-shaped magnets with a table inside.
The MRI technician withdraws the table and places the patient on it in the appropriate position depending on the area to be viewed. The technician also puts on protective headphones to reduce the loud noise the machine emits during the examination.
Once the person is comfortably positioned, the technician re-inserts the table into the apparatus and starts the test from the control cabin, outside the acquisition space. The patient has a warning button available to communicate with the technician if necessary.
What is pathology?
The Corachan Campus provides the GCCC 360 Centre of Oncological Excellence with a pathology laboratory, a medical service that performs the macroscopic and microscopic study of tissues, which is a fundamental tool for the diagnosis of a large number of diseases. Thanks to high-tech equipment and highly qualified professionals, we process the samples collected from patients for interpretation and diagnosis.
How is it done?
To obtain the patient’s tissue samples, the medical professional performs a biopsy or surgery to remove cells (cytology) or tissues (histology). The samples obtained are sent to the pathology laboratory for analysis using a procedure with two clearly differentiated phases:
- Technical processing.This procedure allows tissue samples to be fixed so that they can be transformed into very fine sections.
- Diagnostic process.After processing the samples, the pathologist examines them under a microscope and makes a report, taking into account the patient’s clinical data.
What is molecular diagnosis?
Molecular diagnosis allows the cancer specialist to identify possible anomalies in each patient individually and facilitates the choice of the most appropriate treatment. Current techniques make it easier to predict a response to a particular treatment for a particular cancer, or the likelihood of cancer returning after it has been eliminated.
Molecular diagnosis involves the application of a set of highly precise techniques that allow accurate diagnosis to be made using molecular biology techniques, such as genetic sequencing, immunohistochemistry, detection of polymorphisms (SNPs) or next-generation sequencing (NGS), among others.
These techniques identify possible changes in the sequence of genes, critical for the development of cancer or other abnormalities that may be present in the molecules or proteins of the cells that make up the tumour.
¿Cuál es la función del laboratorio clínico?
What is the role of the clinical laboratory?
The Corachan Campus, where the GCCC 360 Centre of Oncological Excellence is located, has a clinical laboratory that allows the collection and analysis of biological samples from our patients in a fast and reliable way thanks to the use of the most advanced technology. The analysis of these samples, such as blood or urine, contributes to the study, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
Our goal is to provide a quality clinical laboratory service adapted to the specific needs of our patients.
How is it done?
Following collection of the required biological sample, the sample is analysed by the most appropriate procedure.
Haematology. This section studies the blood and blood-forming tissues. A complete blood count is one of the tests most requested from the clinical laboratory.
Biochemistry. These are chemical elements of blood and urine, such as glucose, cholesterol, uric acid, bilirubin, etc.
- Coagulation. Tests are performed to detect bleeding, thrombotic disorders and coagulation disorders.
Microbiology. It is used for diagnosis of infectious diseases. It is based on the isolation of the microorganisms causing or associated with the infection and the correct interpretation of the results.
What are genetic studies?
The Molecular Genetics Department of the GCCC 360 Centre of Oncological Excellence focuses its activity on support for cancer genetic diagnosis, so it has a Family Cancer and Genetic Counselling Unit whose main objective is to identify and offer counselling to patients and families who, due to their history or characteristics, are at increased risk of developing cancer.
Genetic studies are one of the greatest advances in medicine for early diagnosis of certain diseases, since they allow the identification of variations in DNA that may cause disease and are a fundamental tool for counselling families with a history of this type of disease, since they allow the study of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, melanoma, pancreas and prostate cancer, among others.
Molecular genetics techniques play a key role in deciding on personalised treatment for each patient, as well as for predicting their potential prognosis.
Approximately 5-10% of all cancers are inherited, meaning that mutations or changes in certain genes are passed on to offspring. People with these mutations are more likely to develop cancer in their lifetime.