The process of giving a beam-emitting iodine atom to the patient, known as atomic therapy among the people, has been giving hope to many cancer treatments in recent years.
Pointing out that cancer is a health problem with an increasing incidence, Yeditepe University Koşuyolu Hospital Head of Nuclear Medicine Department Assoc. Dr. Nalan Alan Selçuk shared important information about 'nuclear medicine treatment methods' and success rates. Stating that atomic therapy has been used especially in the treatment of thyroid cancer since the early 1940s, Assoc. Dr. Nalan Alan Selçuk said, “For the last 20 years, we have started to use this treatment extensively in tumors originating from neurons and nerve cells originating from the intestine and stomach, which we call prostate cancer and neuroendocrine tumors, and liver tumors.”
“These molecules are targeted and find the organ to go to”
Stating that radioactive substances are sent to the body in doses that will not harm the person in atomic treatment, Assoc. Dr. Nalan Alan Selçuk said, “One of the treatments we have recently called targeted therapies or smart therapies is atom therapy. These molecules, which are targeted and able to find the organ they will go to, are marked in the nuclear medicine laboratory and given to the patient, usually intravenously. Molecules find the target, enter the cell. Here it only destroys the tumor tissue. By giving less radiation to other areas of the body, a safer, selective treatment method is provided.
“First-line atomic therapy in a large thyroid cancer”
Providing information about the types of cancer in which atomic therapy is applied, Assoc. Dr. Selçuk said: “Features such as the size of the tumor, its pathological type, and its spread pattern, such as the presence of lymph node spread in the neck, determine whether the patient will receive atomic therapy or not. What we mean by atomic treatment is 'iodine 131' treatment. Generally, over 90 percent of these patients are treated by taking iodine once. Of course, the amount of tissue left after the surgery, the iodine capture capacity of the thyroid gland, and the type of the disease are the factors that increase the success of the treatment. Pancreatic cancer is known among the people as a rapidly growing and deadly type of cancer. The progression of pancreatic cancer is usually rapid and treatment options are more difficult than normal cell types, but if the pancreatic cell type contains neuroendocrine, these diseases can also be treated. After atomic treatment, we get very satisfactory results in this group. We are talking about tumors of neuroendocrine origin of the pancreas. These tumors most commonly metastasize to the liver. Even in such a situation, it is possible for us to have a chance to treat the patient with smart molecules or to increase the patient's quality of life by stopping the progression of the tumor.”
What if it doesn't respond to surgery or chemotherapy?
Explaining that neuroendocrine cancers are a common tumor of many organs of the body, especially stomach, intestine, pancreas, lung and thyroid, Yeditepe University Hospitals Nuclear Medicine Specialist Assoc. Dr. Selçuk said, “We use atomic therapy in these cancers in advanced patients who do not have a chance for surgery or do not respond to chemotherapy, because patients who come to nuclear medicine are now patients in the 3rd and 4th stages of cancer. Patients who have lost the classical methods used in cancer treatment, namely surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Since these patients have come to us recently, their life expectancy is short. Despite this, our goal is to stop these diseases, prolong the life of people and improve their quality of life. It has been demonstrated by current data that neuroendocrine tumors prevent advanced diseases at a rate of 82 percent and contribute to the treatment. These patients come to us with their hopes lost, and despite this, the rates can be satisfactory.”