Cancer Imaging Services

Cancer Imaging

Cancer Imaging Services at the UCSF Imaging Center at China Basin include cancer disease detection, screening, staging and monitoring response to treatment using SPECT and PET scans, additional nuclear medicine protocols, and other advanced techniques. Radiation treatment planning is also offered using guided imagery and additional quantitation for radiation therapy. Imaging services are available for all cancers.




Superior cancer imaging techniques, resulting in higher quality images and reports

  • Each image receives a same-day interpretation.
  • Images are reviewed by world-class radiologists specialized by anatomy.
  • Image acquisition time is not rushed, resulting in extremely detailed images.
  • Highest resolution scanners available, including:
    • 64-slice PET/CT, which fuses PET and CT images for a more comprehensive anatomic and metabolic visualization of disease sites throughout the body.
    • 64-slice CT scanners, with the latest generation of CT technology and specialized software, for virtual colonoscopy and other state-of-the-art procedures.
  • Unique PET/CT protocol, which includes the use of diagnostic quality contrast-enhanced CT to produce more useful CT images.
  • Every PET/CT includes additional advanced reconstruction of the chest CT images, which allows for the early detection of tiny pulmonary nodules.

Routine referrals of complicated cases

  • Imaging of rare cancers is performed daily.
  • Internationally-regarded leaders in radiology perform all procedures and image interpretation.
    • Radiologists have specialized and focused experience in looking at and treating tertiary level disease.
    • Knowledge of the full range of imaging techniques enables radiologists to recommend the correct study if additional information or characterization is needed to confirm a diagnosis or guide treatment.
  • Nuclear medicine technologists have extensive experience in PET/CT and SPECT and are all dual licensed in both computed tomography and comprehensive nuclear medicine diagnostic and therapeutic services.

Availability of progressive technologies

  • Fusing images from CT and PET scans results in a more comprehensive anatomic and metabolic visualization of disease sites throughout the body.
  • Higher sensitivity and rapid reconstruction algorithms of PET/CT make dynamic or gated acquisitions possible.
  • Advanced reconstruction algorithms for SPECT/CT deliver state of the art image quality.

Access to clinical trials and translational studies

Newest technology may be accessed before it becomes available to the general public.

UCSF is committed to providing the most advanced diagnostic, screening, staging and treatment monitoring, using the very latest equipment. We offer supportive care and treatment, which may include imaging to pinpoint surgical removal of the cancer and then to evaluate effectiveness of surgery, as well as imaging to aid in planning and then ongoing monitoring of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Services are available to patients with every form of cancer, and include:

  • Image-guided needle biopsy
  • CT
  • Fluoroscopy
  • Lymphoscintigraphy using SPECT/CT for preoperative sentinel lymph node mapping
  • MRI
  • PET/CT for diagnosis, staging, restaging, and monitoring response to treatment for an increasing number of cancers.
  • Ultrasonography
  • X-ray

Procedures for Specific Forms of Cancers

Brain Tumors

  • Magnetic resonance (MR) neurography, an advanced technique that is useful for diagnosing disorders of the peripheral nerves beyond the spinal canal.
  • Diagnosis of brain tumors with CT and MRI angiograms, CT and radiographic myelograms, and MRI spectroscopy as well as PET/CT for differentiation of post-radiation changes vs. tumor recurrence.
  • Diagnosis of spinal cord tumors with MRI, CT, PET/CT, EEG, spinal taps or biopsies.

UCSF is a tertiary care center and has the largest brain tumor center in Northern California.

 Breast Cancer

  • PET/CT including diagnostic quality CT with intravenous contrast for initial staging of metastatic disease as well as restaging and monitoring response to treatment.
    • When indicated, a brain MRI can be performed the same day.
  • Cardiac Wall Motion Study – ERNA (MUGA) to monitor for potential cardiotoxicity of chemotherapies commonly used to treat breast cancers.
  • Bone Scan with SPECT/CT.
    • Hybrid imaging often provides higher diagnostic accuracy and specificity than traditional planar bone scans alone, as it often enables the radiologist to differentiate bone metastases from degenerative changes.

Colorectal Cancer

UCSF is one of the few centers in California to offer CT colonography (Virtual Colonscopy) for colon cancer screening.

Head and Neck Cancer

  • Radioiodine scans for thyroid cancer.
  • Parathyroid SPECT/CT.

Liver Cancer

During PET/CT scans, multiphase CT images of the liver can be obtained as part of the same acquisition, allowing for multiphase evaluation of liver lesions that may otherwise be non-specific on contrast or non-contrast CT alone.

Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology

Pancreatic Cancers

During PET/CT, scans multiphase CT images of the pancreas can be obtained as part of the same acquisition.

Professional Staff

All procedures and interpretations are performed by radiologists whose reputation for research and clinical expertise is recognized worldwide. Every image is read by a radiologist who is a specialist by sectional anatomy. In addition, all radiologists in the Cancer Imaging Services at UCSF have extensive knowledge of the full range of imaging techniques, which enables them to recommend the next best step if findings require urgent action, further characterization or subsequent follow-up.

Cancer Imaging


Support Services

UCSF has a myriad of support services in place to help the cancer patient and family.  For information, please visit the UCSF Cancer Center Support Services.