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An innovation in nuclear medicine brings an important cancer detection test to many more U.S. communities

Today, I'm sharing an account of the benefits of a new diagnostic test for patients who live in Central Illinois. It illustrates how an innovation in nuclear medicine, embraced by regulators, can help disperse the availability of high quality care to those who live throughout the United States. 

Last Fall, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved marketing of a new radiopharmaceutical with a longer shelf life that previously available -- and that has dramatically increased access to a diagnostic imaging exam designed to detect the presence of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) in adult patients. Neuroendocrine tumors are cancers that begin in specialized cells called neuroendocrine cells. These tumors occur mostly in the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas and liver, but can also occur in other tissues - including lung, thymus, cervix, heart and prostate. This newly approved agent used in positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) exams is called Detectnet (copper Cu 64 dotatate injection). The 12.7-hour half-life for Detectnet allows it to be produced by radio pharmacies centrally and shipped to health facilities throughout the U.S.

Prior to the approval of the new agent, the then available radiopharmaceutical tracers had only 68 minute half-life, making it impractical for most hospitals to perform these nuclear medicine procedures since the closest radio pharmacy that can produce tracer agents could be two to three hours away. Patients previously had to travel hours to have the test performed at centers situated closer to those radio pharmacies.

And new, faster PET/CT scanning technology is part of this innovation. The hospital reported: "Used in combination with new PET/CT scanning equipment in radiology, neuroendocrine imaging procedures that used to take multiple days to complete now finish in the same day without needing bowel prep. Imaging time alone with this new procedure takes 30 minutes versus an hour to 90 minutes on multiple days with the old exam."

I am energized when I learn how new diagnostic imaging tools such as this new radiopharmaceutical used in combination with new PET/CT technology bring considerable positive benefits to patients.

The new tracer combined with the new PET/CT scanner makes it easier to detect how many neuro endocrine tumors are in a particular patient as the machine scans the entire body of the patient.


health care & life sciences, radiopharmaceuticals, nuclear medicine