Cancer Prevention and Detection

At CHI Health, we go far beyond just treating the physical aspects of cancer by providing our patients with spiritual, emotional and psychological support in order to help heal the whole person – body, mind and spirit. Our cancer support team consists of social workers, chaplains, dieticians, cancer nurse navigators and many others and their sole job is to make this journey as comfortable as possible. Our community-based preventive screenings, revolutionary detection methods, and the largest network of primary care physicians are working together to fight cancer in Nebraska and western Iowa.

Primary Care Providers

CHI Health Clinic has more primary care physicians than any other system in the region. The first step in cancer prevention and/or early detection is through regular check-ups and healthy living. See your primary care physician every year to stay on top of keeping healthy and to learn what cancer screens you should have based on your age and family history. If you do not have a primary care physician, we can help you find one.

Community Screenings

Cancer prevention and early detection through community outreach and educational programs is a major focus of the CHI Health Cancer Center. We have provided cancer education to thousands of people through health fairs and education programs. To raise awareness regarding the importance of early detection, we provide free screenings throughout the year for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancer. In 2012, we served a total of 1,357 patients through our free screening programs. 

If you would like more information on cancer prevention and community outreach, please contact the Outreach Coordinator at  (402) 398-5663 or

Cancer Imaging Technologies


A contrast substance is injected into the arteries to enhance visibility, an X-ray is used to assess blood flow and determine the location and size of tumors. This information is used to plan therapy.

Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT)

Is helpful in diagnosing and treating cancer. CT scans show bones, organs and soft tissues more clearly than standard x-rays. They are useful in helping physicians find cancer, because the images can be enlarged to make it easier to see areas of concern. CT scans can show a tumor’s shape, size and location, and even the blood vessels that feed the tumor – without surgery.  A CT scanner also can be used to help the physician guide a small needle to remove a tissue sample. This is called a CT-guided biopsy. In cancer treatment, a CT scanner can be used to guide needles into tumors for radiofrequency ablation (using heat to destroy a tumor). 

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) 

Is another essential diagnostic tool. A contrast agent containing glucose, a form of sugar, is injected into to a vein and travels throughout the body. Cancer cells absorb high amounts of this sugar because they have a higher metabolic rate than normal cells. A special camera can then spot these cells. A PET scan is useful when the physician thinks the cancer might have spread but does not know where.
CT and PET scans help physicians detect cancer, evaluate the extent of disease and select the most appropriate treatments. By comparing scans done over time, doctors can determine if the therapy is working and detect any recurrent tumors. 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan

Takes pictures using radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays. This test can be helpful in looking at the brain and spinal cord. MRIs can be more uncomfortable than CT scans because they take longer and you need to lie in a narrow tube while the test is done. CHI Health offers the option of “open” MRI, which is less confining.


Is a wand or probe gives off high-frequency sound waves, (above the level detected by human ears), is placed on the skin or into a natural opening to take pictures of the inside of the body. The pattern of their echoes produces a picture called a sonogram, which is displayed on a screen. A gel is often put on the skin first. This test is described in the Breast Ultrasound section above, but ultrasound can also be used to look for cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.