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Is radionuclide treatment safe?

Is radionuclide treatment safe?


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kezban Berberoglu, a specialist in nuclear medicine at Anadolu Medical Center, answers this question.

Radionuclide therapy is a method that uses weakly radioactive materials with rapid decay to target the treatment of prostate cancer and neuroendocrine tumors. We must emphasize that the radiation used in this treatment is intended to destroy cancer cells.

Let's explain the specifics. Both prostate-specific membrane antigen receptors and somatostatin receptors are present not only in cancer cells but also in healthy cells. For example, in addition to prostate cancer, PSMA is also found in tissues such as the salivary glands, lacrimal glands and kidneys. But the number of receptors on the membranes of tumor cells is many times greater than in healthy tissues. This means that most of the molecular complexes with radioactive elements will join the tumor cells. Therefore, the radiation dose received from the tumor will be much higher. This property of radionuclide therapy is called targeting, which means high accuracy of impact on malignant neoplasms, not on healthy tissues.

In addition, the types of radiation used during treatment play an important role in the safety of treatment. Lutetium-177 produces beta radiation, while Actinium-225 and Radium produce alpha radiation. The penetrating power of beta particles is quite small - they are stopped only by 2-2.5 centimeters of living tissue. That is, this radiation will affect only the local level. The penetrating power of alpha particles is even smaller - it is able to pass only through 5-10 neighboring cells. This means that here the direction of the impact on tumor cells will be as high as possible.

The best side of radionuclide treatment is the fact that the radioactive material is directed only at the tumor cell and destroys it, and damage to surrounding tissues and organs is minimal. It can be said that radionuclide treatment is an intelligent and targeted therapy. The patient who received radiation is discharged the same or the day after treatment, without spreading significant radiation around him.

The success of the treatment is higher in its implementation by more experienced teams with a multidisciplinary approach to work. The development of a patient-specific plan and adequate patient follow-up increase the success of treatment.

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