top of page

Can Nuclear Medicine Cure Cancer?

Shrewsbury, MA

In 2022 alone, 1.9 million people were diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is a disease that can affect everyone, young and old. Cancer occurs when there is abnormal cell growth in a part of the body, resulting in a dangerous tumor. The symptoms and effects of cancer are severe, causing the deaths of over 600,000 people in 2022. With the number of cancer cases increasing every day, it is important to find effective cancer treatment.

There are many different ways to treat cancer such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and so much more. However, none of these treatments guarantee the patient a cancer-free life. Additionally, another issue with treating cancer is that every cancer is different, so every cancer needs to be treated differently.

However, recent developments regarding cancer treatment make scientists and doctors hopeful. One of the most powerful ways to treat cancer is with nuclear medicine. Nuclear medicine uses radioactive materials, or radiopharmaceuticals, to examine organ function and structure to diagnose and treat disease. Nuclear medicine is especially helpful in the early stages of the disease. But how can it destroy cancer and tumors?

CT scan, ct scan, radiology, radiologist, doctor, nuclear medicine
CT Scan Machine

A doctor would first need to identify the problem and diagnose the patient with the specific type of cancer they have. They send the patient through a machine that has special cameras that allow doctors to track radiopharmaceuticals, which are a special type of drug. They are made up of carrier molecules that are bonded tightly to a radioactive atom. They are then injected into a patient’s body and a scan shows the doctors how all of the organs are functioning. It sort of acts as an X-ray but for organs instead of bones.

PET scans are the main scans doctors use in response to cancer. PET scans help doctors detect cancer and monitor its response to treatment. After doctors identify the cancer, they may choose to give nuclear medicine therapy as a way to treat the tumor. Nuclear medicine therapy uses radioactive molecules to destroy cancer cells. Radioactive molecules are molecules that emit energy. The molecules are injected into a person’s veins where they circulate through the body to find tumor cells. They then stick to the tumor and directly deliver radiation to it and destroy it.

Cancer, nuclear medicine, radiology, radiologist, tumor, radiopharmaceuticals
Scan From Nuclear Medicine

However, just like almost everything in medicine, nuclear medicine therapy affects everyone differently. The radiopharmaceuticals don’t have any side effects as the amount of radiation given off isn’t dangerous. Nuclear medicine has improved over the years and has proved to have fewer side effects than chemotherapy. Patients tend to feel less nauseous and experience less hair fall.

Something to keep in mind is that nuclear medicine therapy is helpful only when the cancer is in its early stages. It is harder for radioactive molecules to kill large tumors. It may require multiple injections of the molecules before the whole tumor is destroyed. But with developments in the future, nuclear medicine will prove to be one of the best ways to cure cancer.

Learn more about medicine from other articles at STEM-E!

21 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page