Radiology is a medical specialty that uses different kinds of imaging to diagnose and treat disease.

Peter Mac uses the following radiology services to help diagnose and treat a variety of cancer types:

Computed tomography (CT) scans

A CT scan is a medical imaging procedure that uses x-rays and digital computer technology to create 2D or 3D images of the body. Unlike other forms of medical imaging, CT can make an image of every type of body structure at once, including bone, blood vessels and soft tissue.

CT scans can be used to diagnose cancer and plan surgeries or radiation therapy treatments. CT scans are also used to monitor response to cancer treatment. CT can be used as a visual aid for procedures, such as biopsies, that go inside the body, to ensure correct placement.

At Peter Mac, we perform more than 45 CT examinations per day, consisting mostly of whole-body scans (chest, abdomen, pelvis, often including neck).

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans

MRI is used to visualise internal structures of the body in detail. MRI can create more detailed images of some parts of the human body than are possible with x-rays. An MRI scanner is a device with a table that slides into a large cylinder, inside the cylinder is a magnet that, when operated, creates a powerful magnetic field, used to align the magnetisation of some atomic nuclei in the body, creating images.

At Peter Mac, MRI is used for outpatient referrals (e.g. brain and spine imaging) and dedicated oncology examinations including cranial nerve and skull base imaging; local staging of head and neck tumours; local staging of cervical, rectal and prostate tumours; breast MRI; oncological brain, spine, abdominal and musculoskeletal studies.

Digital mammography

Digital mammography is a type of imaging that uses digital receptors to examine breast tissue. Peter Mac has a breast tomosynthesis unit with biopsy capabilities, increasing the sensitivity of breast cancer detection, as well as improving the patient experience of the procedure.

Diagnostic mammography is performed for a wide range of patients, including post-operative patients and people with strong family history of breast cancer.


Ultrasound is a scan that uses high frequency sound waves to show internal body structures. The most common uses for ultrasound at Peter Mac include breast and abdominal imaging. Ultrasound is also used for core biopsies (e.g. breast, abdominal); fine needle aspirations – in particular, head and neck nodes, and superficial lesions; breast hookwire localisation; pleural and ascites aspirations and abscess drainage.

Interventional radiology

Interventional radiology uses diagnostic imaging equipment to help with the treatment of many cancers. The machine used for interventional radiology is called an angiographic machine. Interventional radiology is used for:

  • central venous access – Arrowcath, Vascath and PICC line insertion
  • barium and contrast studies
  • percutaneous nephrostomy and biliary drainage
  • percutaneous gastrostomy (PEG) tube insertion
  • IVC filter insertion
  • catheter placement for isolated limb infusion procedures
  • general fluoroscopic procedures, e.g. difficult lumbar punctures and nasogastric tubes performed under fluoroscopic guidance.
  • tumour ablation using microwave or other local ablative technique

Referral information

For Patients

Your general practitioner or specialist will organise relevant referrals for radiology.

For health professionals

For more information see referrals.


Cancer Imaging

Peter MaCallum Cancer Centre
Level 5, 305 Grattan Street
Melbourne 3000


Cancer Imaging

Phone: 03 8559 5510
Fax: 03 8559 5519
Email: [email protected]