Nuclear medicine is a cutting-edge medical technique used in several medical specialities, including heart, gastrointestinal, neurological, and endocrinal conditions, and cancers. Radiotracers are injected into the body to project images with a detailed view, aiding in the assessment, evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of various medical conditions.
Nuclear medicine therapy is another significant branch that employs radioactive iodine (I-131) for treating thyroid cancer, radioactive antibodies to combat lymphoma and metastases of tumours into the bones, and to stop the progression of cancer cells in adrenal glands in adults and tumours of nerve tissues in children. Radioimmunotherapy and brachytherapy are two other treatments under nuclear medicine that are yielding promising results in treating various types of cancers.
Nuclear medicine’s application lies in both the diagnosis and treatment of cancers.
Nuclear medicine is an advanced radiology technique that helps diagnose cancer and tumour growth. Radiotracers, injected or ingested, accumulate in the body and give off gamma rays to detect areas of intense activity. Hot spots may indicate a tumour, while cold spots could also be indicative of tumour growth with less cellular activity.
PET/CT is a powerful diagnostic tool, and during this procedure, a radioactive tracer is injected intravenously to detect cancers. It can also use contrast material to produce multiple 3D images. PET/CT is recommended for detecting cancer cells, tracking their spread to other organs, monitoring treatment progress, evaluating tissue viability, and detecting cancer recurrence.
Nuclear medicine is used to treat a broad spectrum of cancers, and the following are the different nuclear medicine treatment options available:
Radioactive iodine (I-131) therapy is a primary treatment for thyroid cancer that targets cancer cells and prevents them from spreading to other parts of the body. It is also used to treat hyperthyroidism.
Radioimmunotherapy, a combination of radiation therapy and immunotherapy, may be used to treat non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients who don't respond to chemotherapy. Monoclonal antibodies are injected into the body to target cancer cells and activate the immune system. It is also being studied as a potential treatment for other cancers, such as prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, leukaemia, melanoma, and brain glioma.
Brachytherapy is a non-invasive or minimally invasive cancer therapy wherein a radiation source is placed close to or inside the tumour. This procedure delivers high doses of targeted radiation to specific areas, killing cancer cells with fewer side effects. It is effective in treating cancers of the breast, brain, cervix, endometrium, esophagus, bile duct, and head and neck.
HCG is committed to providing advanced diagnostic and treatment options to its patients. The fully-fledged nuclear medicine department at HCG features state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic platforms for managing a broad spectrum of cancers.
HCG is committed to providing top-notch cancer care and constantly strives for innovation in diagnostics and treatments. One of the significant achievements of our nuclear medicine department is the introduction of theranostics in cancer care for the first time in India. The term “theranostics” is derived from the phrases, “therapeutics” and “diagnostics.” Theranostics is the integration of diagnostics and therapeutics to concurrently or sequentially diagnose and treat medical disorders, which is a game-changer for modern medicine. HCG's patient-centric approach aims to save time and money and prevent negative outcomes, making theranostics a perfect fit for our cancer care model.
A 50-year-old woman presented herself with carcinoma of the ovary. She had undergone all established therapies for her condition. However, her body showed no response, and the disease started progressing. As a last resort, a Ga68 FAPi scan was performed, which revealed an advanced disease. This was followed by Ac225 FAPi therapy, and the patient showed excellent treatment response. Currently, many end-stage cancers are being treated similarly, especially when there are no other promising treatment options.