Imaging Your Lymphoma

In 1896, the German surgeon Franz König used X-rays to visualize a tumor for the first time. Since then, imaging has become an indispensable tool in oncology clinical practice and cancer research. Over the past three decades, enormous strides have been made in the development of imaging technologies and their applications – advances that have made them more sensitive, and safer. Imaging studies play a critical role in lymphoma care.  They establish the size and extent of disease, as can provide insight into your tumor biology.  Revolutionary techniques, such as positron emission tomography (PET scanning) have enabled us to identify small amounts of disease that would not be visible with other conventional approaches.  PET imaging essentially measures metabolic activity (that is, sugar metabolism), and can complement the information gained from more traditional CT imaging.  In addition to detection, imaging now plays a fundamental role in the assessment of response to therapy.  Several technologies, such as: PET, perfusion imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which are focused on measurement of tumor metabolism, are being developed to measure early response to therapy, which may be prognostic in select diseases like Hodgkin lymphoma.

The information acquired from these imaging modalities can play an important role in determining the urgency and type of therapy for your disease. Thus, it is important to obtain the appropriate studies at the appropriate time, before and after therapy, for the most accurate interpretation of response. We work closely with renowned radiologists to quantitate your disease before and after treatment.  In addition, we are working with some of the country’s leading authorities in imaging to develop new, more sophisticated tools to find lymphoma, and track its response to treatment.  As with every intervention there are risks associated with the benefits. We appreciate well the cumulative side effects of radiation and the potential harm it can pose.  As a result, we use radiation-based techniques judiciously and minimally; we are working to develop new informative imaging technologies that do not expose patients to radiation in the process.   There is no doubt that the role of sophisticated imaging techniques in the care of patients with lymphoma will continue to grow.  Our expert multidisciplinary team is poised to use this information to every patient’s benefit where possible.