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Diagnosis and Treatment Planning

The first step in developing a treatment plan is diagnosis. We start by determining the location and density of potentially cancerous tissue using the most current technology available on the Atrium Medical Center campus.

The Digital Imaging Advantage

As technology in medical imaging continues to advance at an astounding pace, you can count on Atrium Medical Center to offer the latest in imaging breakthroughs. Our digital diagnostic imaging services provide unsurpassed speed, efficiency, and quality for physicians and their patients.

Digital imaging offers many benefits. Images are easy for physicians and radiologists to access, and they can be viewed by multiple people at the same time.

There are a variety of imaging tests available to diagnose cancer. These tests may include X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, PET scans, mammography, ultrasound scans, cystoscopy and endoscopy - depending on your symptoms and the part of your body that's involved.

Atrium offers the latest, most advanced imaging technology for a fast, accurate diagnosis, including:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) 
  • Ultrasound 
  • Full-Field Digital Mammography 
  • Computed Tomography (CT) 
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) 
  • Biopsy 
  • Surgery

Laboratory Services

We provide timely, high quality laboratory results for the diagnosis and treatment of our cancer patients. Before a person can receive treatment for cancer, he or she must have an exact diagnosis. This primarily involves examining tissues or cells taken from the person.


A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue for laboratory examination. A needle biopsy removes tissue using a hollow tube called a syringe. The needle is passed through the syringe into the area of concern. The tissue is taken out using this needle. Needle biopsies are often performed using x-rays or a CT scan, which guide the surgeon to the appropriate area.

An open biopsy is a surgery that uses general anesthesia. This means you are asleep and pain-free during the procedure. The procedure is done in a hospital operating room. A surgeon makes a cut into the affected area and the tissue is removed.

Closed biopsy uses a much smaller surgical cut than open biopsy. The small cut is made so that a camera-like instrument can be inserted. This instrument can be used to see the area and helps guide the surgeon to the appropriate place to take the sample.

Bone Marrow Biopsies

Bone marrow is the spongy material found in the center of most large bones in the body. The different cells that make up blood are made in the bone marrow. Bone marrow produces red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Along with a biopsy (the sampling of mostly solid tissue or bone), an aspiration (the sampling of mostly liquid) is often done at the same time.

The Pathology Laboratory is instrumental in the diagnosis of cancer. Histologists work in the laboratory department processing tissue specimens that get received either from a surgery or physician offices. After a gross examination, the tissue specimens are processed and then thinly cut and placed on microscope slides.  The slides are then sent through a staining procedure that better differentiates the tissue material. Once this is completed the case is presented to the Pathologists for their review.

Pathology Services

Pathology is the study of disease. Pathologists examine tissues and cells under the microscope in order to arrive at a diagnosis. Pathologists are experts in the use of laboratory tests to diagnose illnesses, follow treatments, and manage diseases.

By studying a biopsy, a pathologist can determine the location, size, cell type, and staging of the tumor. Staging describes the extent or severity of an individual’s cancer. These key pieces of information are crucial for the next step―planning your treatment.

Depending on the type of tumor, we collaborate with other laboratories to provide additional tumor information when technologies are needed that are not available at Atrium Medical Center

Endobronchial Ultrasound

Lung cancer is often diagnosed after it has spread. Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) helps patients with lung and lymph node tumors get diagnosed more accurately - and earlier - so they have more treatment options. With EBUS, physicians can obtain tissue or fluid samples from the lungs and surrounding lymph nodes without surgery.

In this outpatient procedure, a brochoscope equipped with ultrasound is passed into the airways of the lungs. If a physician notices any suspicious areas in the lungs or lymph nodes, a biopsy is easily obtained. The procedure takes about 30 minutes, and biopsy results usually are available within two days. EBUS can be performed on most patients, regardless of age.

EBUS is a remarkable improvement for patients. Previously, those with possible cancer in the lymph nodes would undergo invasive chest surgery to get an accurate diagnosis, which caused more health risks. Hospitalization lasted three to four days with a much longer recovery. Patients who undergo EBUS recover quickly and usually can go home the same day. 

Treatment Plan

A key advantage of Atrium Medical Center’s dedication to providing the latest clinical treatments and technologies is that patients often experience reduced treatment times and fewer of the toxic side effects that made cancer treatment more difficult in the past.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, our multidisciplinary team will develop a treatment plan, answer your questions and explain the treatment in detail. We’ll describe the procedures, side effects, and possible results.

The nurse navigator gathers data regarding the diagnosis and treatment plan and collaborates with an interdisciplinary group to discuss alternatives and future directions for your care.

A conference in which physicians representing medical oncology, radiation oncology, radiology, surgery, and pathology, along with nursing, meet routinely to discuss newly diagnosed patients, the treatment, and future care plans for that patient.

Learn more about our clinically and technically advanced scope of services.

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