New Advanced Technology for Cancer Care

September 20, 2017 5:02 pm Published by

Providence Hospital has become the only health care facility in south Alabama to install advanced technology that can diagnose and monitor even the smallest tumors more precisely in less time.

The new Biograph mCT positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) scanner will enhance and expand noninvasive imaging services for a wide range of cancer patients. It offers more precise imaging, faster scans and greater comfort for patients who cannot tolerate the confined space of a traditional scanner. It produces detailed high-resolution images of the body’s internal structures on a molecular level with consistent, reproducible results. That level of accuracy improves the physician’s ability to diagnose, assess, treat and monitor disease activity by detecting the smallest lesions more precisely.

The amount of time needed to complete whole body PET scan is reduced with the new technology, improving patient comfort and decreasing the possibility of patient movement during the scan. Movement can affect the clarity of the images. Faster scan time also minimizes exposure to radiation.

A key advantage for patients is the open design of the scanner. The scanner can comfortably accommodate patients who weigh up to 500 pounds. The open design allows many exams to be performed with the patient’s head outside the machine, eliminating anxiety in claustrophobic patients.

“The addition of this new technology to our Cancer Center enhances our ability to detect the very earliest signs of abnormalities long before any anatomical changes become apparent.  With all cancer, early detection gives us a head start in effectively treating the disease. Being able to pinpoint subtle changes in the body that indicate cancer and monitor the effects of treatment promises to greatly improve outcomes,” Providence radiation oncologist Frank Pitruzzello, MD, said.

Computed tomography (CT) is a diagnostic procedure using special X-ray equipment to obtain detailed cross-sectional pictures of organs, bones and other tissue. Positron emission tomography (PET) is a test that utilizes an injected radiotracer which seeks out areas in the body with increased function or metabolism. The signals produced by the radiotracer are then detected and converted to images of abnormal cell activity caused by cancer.

Providence Hospital is a member of Ascension, the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system. Founded in 1854 and based in Mobile, Ala., Providence offers 349 beds and comprehensive healthcare for emergency, cardiovascular, cancer, orthopedics, obstetrics and surgical services, as well as an outpatient diagnostic center and a freestanding rehabilitation and wellness center. Providence Hospital has been designated a Blue Distinction Center by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama for spine, hip and knee surgeries, reflecting a high level of performance in patient safety and outcomes.

The Providence Cancer Center is staffed with board-certified medical oncologists and radiation oncologists who are specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. These physicians are supported by a dedicated team of professional associates, offering patients a full range of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and support services.

About Providence

On the Gulf Coast, Providence based in Mobile, Alabama, and Sacred Heart Health System based in Pensacola, Florida, are part of Ascension. Together, these Ascension healthcare facilities have served Gulf Coast communities for more than 160 years and they employ more than 6,600 associates. Across the region, Ascension provided more than $113 million in community benefit and care of persons living in poverty in fiscal year 2016.  Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension is the largest non-profit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system, operating 2,500 sites of care – including 141 hospitals and more than 30 senior living facilities – in 24 states and the District of Columbia. For more on Providence, visit