Nuclear medicine has been a revolution in healthcare, especially in treating life-threatening conditions like cancer. Doctors use a small amount of radioactive material to treat tumors and cancer cells. But how does nuclear medicine radiology work, and why is it so effective? This article explains all that you need to know about nuclear medicine and its role in treating cancer. Please visit website for more on radiology.
What is Nuclear Medicine?
Nuclear medicine is a specialized domain of radiology that utilizes radiopharmaceuticals or radioisotopes for spotting cancer tumors. These are radioactive materials that emit radiation from inside the body and are captured by a specialized camera.
Per the stats of Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information, radioactive materials are used in almost one-third of all procedures.
Nuclear medicine helps both diagnose and treat cancer.
How Nuclear Medicine Diagnoses Cancer?
To diagnose cancer, doctors introduce the radioactive materials into your body either via the mouth or by IV drips. The material sends out small doses of radiation as it passes through your internal body parts.
Once inside your body, your doctor will perform a nuclear scan, which involves taking pictures of a specific area of your body.
In tissues that are affected by cancer cells, it shows up in the images as hot spots. What this means is that radiation collects a greater amount where the tumor is active. The area where there’s a cold spot means there’s less cell activity. This might be an early alarm sign of cancer.
Nuclear medicine can carry out various scans like bone scans, gallium scans, MUGA scans, PET scans, and thyroid scans.
The scans aren’t painful or harmful in any way. The entire process takes about half an hour to an hour, after which you’ll have the reports of whether or not you have cancer.
Nuclear medicine is better at diagnosing cancer because it precisely shows the amount of activity in a particular organ or tissue. This is opposed to x-ray radiology, which gives a big picture view of your anatomy.
How Nuclear Medicine Treats Cancer?
As already mentioned, nuclear medicine not only diagnoses cancer but also treats it. Different types of nuclear medicine are used in the treatment of cancer. Those are:
In this therapy, doctors prescribe you monoclonal antibodies and radioactive substances that remain attached to the antibodies. Inside of the body, they latch on to the cancer cells and use radiation to eradicate them. This is more effective in cases like prostate cancer or Leukemia, where chemotherapy fails.
- Radioactive iodine therapy
In this treatment, doctors administer radioactive iodine to destroy thyroid tissues that normal surgeries cannot remove. The thyroid gland absorbs the radioactive iodine just like it absorbs regular iodine. Then the radiation destroys the gland along with the associated cells.
In Brachytherapy, the cancer patients are given a high dosage of radioactive material that target the affected areas and kill the cancer cells. In several studies, Brachytherapy is found to be more effective and targeted. Furthermore, it has fewer side effects when compared to other therapies. It is recommended for patients with carcinoma of the vulva where surgery is not possible.
While nuclear medicine is an excellent way of treating cancer, it might not be a good fit for everyone. You should visit the website to check your eligibility.