An ultrasound is an imaging scan that can help diagnose specific types of cancer. Ultrasounds use high-frequency sound waves to create sonograms, or two-dimensional images of the inside of the body. A licensed technologist will use a transducer wand to send out the sound waves, and as they reflect off organs and tissues, a computer translates the echoes into images.
If a patient is recommended to have an ultrasound or other imaging scans done after a virtual visit, rest assured Moffitt Cancer Center is committed to the health and safety of our patients, their families and our team members. In response to COVID-19, we are taking all necessary precautions consistent with the advice from the CDC. Moffitt is the safest place for cancer patients to receive the highest level of diagnostic imaging and radiology services.
Patients who are unable to travel to Moffitt for upcoming appointments should contact their health care team via the Patient Portal to determine if you are eligible for telemedicine, virtual visits and other options, and to determine next steps for care.
Ultrasounds only take a few minutes and are very safe. However, the images produced by an ultrasound are less detailed than those produced by an MRI or CT scan. On a sonogram, unusually dense tissues (such as tumors) will show up as darker patches on a lighter background of healthy tissue, but the extent of a cancer may be hard to determine.
Although they produce less detailed images than certain other methods, ultrasounds may be recommended if:
- There is a possibility that a lesion might be a fluid-filled cyst instead of a tumor (ultrasounds can distinguish the two based on echo patterns, whereas other imaging scans cannot tell the difference)
- A physician suspects a soft tissue abnormality that traditionally doesn’t show up well on X-rays
- A physician needs to see if cancer has spread into the blood vessels, especially in the liver or pancreas (this can be done with a special ultrasound machine called a Doppler Flow machine)
- Radiation exposure is a concern (ultrasounds do not use radioactive waves, the way that CT scans, MRIs and X-rays do)
An ultrasound may also be done to guide a biopsy, which is a different kind of test in which a small sample of tissue is taken from a tumor. A real-time ultrasound image can help a patient’s physician more accurately guide the biopsy needle into the lesion.
We currently offer ultrasounds at three convenient locations, including:
Moffitt Cancer Center
12902 USF Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL 33612
Monday – Friday | 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Moffitt Cancer Center at International Plaza
4101 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa, FL 33607
Monday – Friday | 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Moffitt McKinley Outpatient Center
10920 N. McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612
Monday – Friday | 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Moffitt Cancer Center’s ultrasound services are provided by skilled technologists with advanced registration in their specialty, and results are analyzed by a team of board-certified radiologists. To learn more about how we use ultrasound technology to detect tumors, call 1-888-663-3488 or request an appointment online.