Better radiopharmaceuticals in cancer therapy. If you can see it, you can treat it.

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The IEO nuclear medicine division, made up entirely of female doctors is a European center of excellence for the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors.

Milan, 12 February 2020 - With technological advances in nuclear medicine - SPECT / CT and PET the IEO Nuclear Medicine Division aims to be the first national theragnostics centre. 

The innovative concept of ‘Theragnostics’ is a cancer management strategy involving the integration of nuclear medicine diagnostic imaging and therapy.

Theragnostics consists of two phases. In the molecular diagnostics phase, small quantities of radioactive substances are used that selectively position themselves on the cancer cells, making them clearly visible on PET examination. In the therapeutic phase, those same substances, attached to the cancer cells, become the targets for therapy with radiopharmaceutical molecules, which recognize and selectively target them. Once positioned, the radiopharmaceutical releases its radioactive charge, destroying the cancer cell. The radiopharmaceutical can also be the same molecule used with diagnostic function, but with a different isotope, with therapeutic function.
The IEO Nuclear Medicine division is an international leader in theragnostics for neuroendocrine cancer. Over the past 20 years at the IEO, approximately 2000 patients have been treated in clinical studies, contributing significantly to improving prognosis and quality of life.

"We treat 200 new neuroendocrine tumor cases each year of and we are the Center of Excellence ENETS (European NeuroEndocrine Tumor Society) - explains Chiara Grana, Director of the Division of Nuclear Medicine. Furthermore, unique in Italy, we also use radiopharmaceuticals to guide the surgeon in operating tumours of the gastro-pancreatic tract. In this case, we inject a radiopharmaceutical that homes in on the tumour and the PET image delineates with extreme precision the tissue to be removed. The treatment is safe from an oncological point of view, but much invasive. The availability of new generation PET and SPECT machines makes molecular diagnosis more precise and accurate, allowing smaller and smaller lesions to be identified and so greater chance of recovery ".

“Now the challenge is to find new molecular targets - concludes Grana - Our next research project concerns the diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer, to identify the disease at the microscopic level. In our Division, the doctors are all women and we are all convinced that theragnostics is in its infancy, and that the advanced technologies we now have will move the frontiers of this fascinating discipline further and further. The theragnostic approach may lead to more effective care much less invasively".


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