Nuclear medicine is a specific branch of medical imaging that uses radioactive substances to detect cancer and other diseases. There are a number of different procedures that are considered to be part of the nuclear medicine specialty, including scintigraphy, SPECT imaging and PET scans.
Unlike other imaging techniques that provide anatomical depictions of a patient’s internal organs and tissues, nuclear medicine illustrates physiologic processes with a high level of detail. With this groundbreaking ability to pinpoint molecular activity within a patient’s body, physicians at Moffitt Cancer Center are revolutionizing the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
The physicians at Moffitt are using nuclear medicine to:
- Diagnose cancer in early stages (which can sometimes eliminate the need for surgical biopsy)
- Identify rare tumors of the pancreas and adrenal glands
- Stage cancer by determining the extent of its spread to various areas of the body
- Determine and plan the optimal approach to treatment
- Localize sentinel lymph nodes prior to surgery for patients with breast cancer or soft tissue tumors
- Monitor a patient’s response to therapy
- Detect recurrence
Nuclear medicine can provide valuable information about cellular functions within the body that is otherwise unattainable, even through highly invasive and costly exploratory surgery. In many cases, the procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis. Depending on the type of scan being performed, a radioactive substance may be swallowed, inhaled as a gas or injected intravenously. The radiation dosage is typically very small, and therefore a patient’s exposure is minimal. In comparison to the potential benefits of nuclear medicine, the associated risks are very low.
For more information about the exciting potential of nuclear medicine at Moffitt Cancer Center, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form.