Nuclear medicine

Nuclear medicine is a safe and painless way of taking pictures of the inside of your body. These images can be used to find problems in the very early stages of a disease, sometimes before they show up on other tests.

It uses small amounts of radioactive material as a ‘tracer’ to diagnose a condition. We inject the material into one of your veins. The radiation it gives out is picked up by a gamma camera, a special device which converts the information into an image that can show the presence, size and shape of abnormalities in various organs in your body. We also use this technique to treat certain conditions.

We keep the radiation doses as low as possible, especially when scanning children.

In particular, our service diagnoses and treats:

We also offer the following specialised treatments:

SIRTeX spheres

Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) uses SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres to treat liver tumours that cannot be removed by surgery.

These may be tumours that start in the liver (primary liver cancer) or that have spread to the liver from another part of the body (secondary liver cancer or metastases).

Similar treatment using TheraSpheres is available for primary liver cancer only.

Both of these therapies are performed in collaboration with the internationally recognised, award-winning Interventional Radiology team at King’s under Professor John Karani.

I-131 therapy for thyroid cancer 

Radioactive iodine treatment is a type of internal radiotherapy. It uses a radioactive form of iodine called iodine 131 (I-131). The radioactive iodine circulates throughout your body in your bloodstream. Thyroid cancer cells pick up the iodine wherever they are in your body. The radiation in the iodine then kills the cancer cells.

Radioactive iodine is a targeted treatment. Only thyroid cells take up the iodine so other body cells remain unaffected. The treatment is only suitable for some types of thyroid cancer.

Radioactive iodine for thyrotoxicosis therapy is a non-surgical treatment (ablation) for hyperthyroidism caused by too much thyroid hormone. It involves using radioactive iodine at much lower doses than for thyroid cancer therapy.

Lutetium 177 therapy

Lutetium therapy (lutetium-177-DOTA-octreotate) is a type of targeted radionuclide therapy or peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). It uses a drug consisting of:

  • octreotate – a man-made (synthetic) form of the naturally occurring hormone somatostatin
  • lutetium-177 – a substance that emits radiation.

This combined drug is given as an infusion into a vein. It then attaches itself to the surface of many neuroendocrine tumours, emitting radiation into the tumour.

Neuroendocrine tumours are group of rare cancers that develop in the neuroendocrine system (a system made up of nerve and gland cells that produces hormones).

The aim of lutetium therapy is to inhibit tumour growth and reduce symptoms associated with the tumour. It is typically given in four cycles, eight to 12 weeks apart.

PET CT

We offer a comprehensive range of PET-CT scans using:

  • F18-FDG, F18-Na for bone scanning
  • F18-choline for prostate
  • F18-amyloid imaging agent for the brain
  • Ga68-dotatate for certain types of cancer, mainly neuroendocrine tumours

These may be combined with a diagnostic CT.

For more information about why you may need a PET_CT scan, click here

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