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Targeted learning: Targeted Radionuclide Therapy


Participants at the recent IAEA-Argonne course on Targeted Radionuclide Therapy

Nuclear medicine plays a very important role in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. The nuclear medicine field is constantly expanding and advancing, and it is essential that professionals keep their knowledge up to date.

Twenty-five nuclear medicine physicians and physicists from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean have recently attended a six day course on targeted radionuclide therapies with the support of the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme[1]. The event, organized in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois, USA, and hosted by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, USA, took place from 31 October to 4 November 2016.

Trainees attended lectures and interactive discussion sessions on different aspects of targeted radionuclide therapy. The course covered the fundamental principles and application of therapeutic nuclear medicine, specifically, nuclear medicine techniques in the treatment of thyroid cancer, lymphoma, prostate cancer and other cancer types. The lectures provided the trainees with a solid theoretical grounding in the improvement of nuclear medicine services. Clinical utility and relative value (with an emphasis on the protocols to be used in the conditions listed above) were also discussed. This was one of the core learning points of this training course. The final day of the course was dedicated to several hands-on medical physics sessions on patient dosimetry calculations for common radionuclide therapies, patient release criteria calculations, and on how to set up an infusion device for radionuclide therapy with Yttrium 90 labelled microspheres in the radiopharmacy laboratory.

Lectures and interactive discussion sessions covering streamlined and emerging approaches  to targeted radionuclide therapy provided a theoretical grounding for the improvement of therapeutic nuclear medicine services by:

  1. Reviewing the different established and emerging therapeutic nuclear medicine protocols and nuclear techniques in the evaluation and management of thyroid cancer, lymphoma, prostate cancer, neuroendocrine tumours, and other cancer types using I-131 and other newer radiopharmaceuticals;
  2. Providing comprehensive knowledge of epidemiology, causes, risk factors and clinical manifestations/symptoms in thyroid cancer, lymphoma, neuroendocrine tumours, prostate cancer and others;
  3. Differentiating and analysing the different protocols used in therapeutic nuclear medicine procedures including the role of hybrid imaging;
  4. Exploring the role of targeted radionuclide therapies in the clinical practice of IAEA Member States;
  5. Providing comprehensive knowledge on the different medical physicists aspects of targeted radionuclide therapy, including, but not limited to, internal dosimetry, radiation safety, quantification, advances in gamma camera single photon emission computed tomography–computed tomography (SPECT-CT) systems and positron emission tomography–computed tomography (PET-CT) imaging, accreditation of PET systems and quality assurance and quality control.

After the training, the participants were able to return home with an enhanced knowledge of the importance of targeted radionuclide therapies, and a better understanding of how to carry out these therapies.  

[1] The course was provided under TC project INT/6/056, ‘Supporting Quality Management Audits in Nuclear Medicine Practices (QUANUM)’.


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