Carcinoma of the female reproductive organs. Value of cross‐sectional imaging
Cross-sectional imaging techniques i.e., computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), play an integral role in the evaluation of patients with carcinoma of the female reproductive system. Neither CT nor MRI, however, are tissue-specific, and benign and malignant disease cannot be differentiated using these techniques alone. Therefore, the diagnosis is clinical and is based on history, physical examination, and histology. After the diagnosis has been made, CT and MRI are recommended for noninvasive evaluation of tumor extent, often helping in designing optimal therapy, thus facilitating more effective treatment and ultimately influencing patient prognosis. In evaluating tumors of the uterus, including endometrial and cervical carcinomas, CT is limited to the evaluation of more extensive disease. It is believed that the value of CT rises proportionately to the size and extent of disease. Its major limitation is suboptimal tissue contrast resolution, making differentiation between a small tumor and the surrounding normal tissue difficult. MRI renders excellent soft tissue contrast, allowing direct tumor visualization and assessment of tumor volume, depth of penetration, and extension to adjacent tissues. Assessment of these parameters is crucial in deciding on the choice of therapy, whether surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or their combination. The initial management of ovarian cancer usually includes surgical staging with tumor debulking. CT remains the primary staging technique; its value resides primarily in identification of tumor metastases and in patient follow-up. Despite progress in the use of CT and MRI, second-look laparotomy for ovarian cancer has not been superseded. Technical advances in radiologic cross-sectional imaging have significantly improved the accuracy of noninvasive tumor staging. Although there are still limitations to these techniques, additional technical improvement and better tissue characterization are imminent.