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Nuclear Medicine in Diagnosing Cancer

Elizabeth Pushpa Rani


Recent trend in imaging technology is nuclear scan to diagnose cancer. It allows assessing the anatomic changes in the organ without disturbing the metabolic processes in tumours and surrounding tissues. Nuclear scan plays a crucial role in diagnosing malignancies. Cancer tissues absorb a higher concentration of the tracer than normal tissues. Gamma cameras capture the pattern of radioactivity of tracer circulation and accumulation in the body. Gamma cameras work by detecting gamma rays emitted by radionuclides. Bone Scan, PET Scan, PET/CT scan, Thyroid Scan, MUGA Scan, and Gallium scan are used to diagnose different types of cancer. Pregnancy, allergic reactions, and other are the three main categories under which the contraindications are divided. Nuclear medicine scans have both short- and long-term effects. Gamma cameras detect gamma rays emitted by radionuclides. Different types of cancer have been discussed using nuclear medicine imaging technology, such as PSMA-targeted PET tracers revealing accurate diagnosis, staging of primary prostate cancer, and re-staging even in the presence of low prostate specific antigen values. The management of lung cancer has shown fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) to be very helpful, and its cost-effectiveness in lung cancer staging is well established. The bone scan is crucial in oncologic imaging due to its high sensitivity for lesion detection, simplicity of whole-body imaging, and low cost. More than 90% of confirmed cases of brain and bone metastases are supported by evidence. Liver scan has exhibited accuracy closer to 80%. In the near future, nuclear medicine technology will be extensively used not only for diagnosing cancer but also for treating oncology conditions. Nursing care is critical component in the department of nuclear medicine for providing effective patient care, and better patient prognosis. Nurses have to stay updated with the recent technologies for providing expanded and extended care to the patient.

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