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Published On: Sun, Sep 30th, 2012

Cancer: Advances in Nuclear Medicine and Nutritional Support


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by Dr. Bob Berger, MS, MVSc, PhD

In this modern age, we are seeing a co-existence of medical science and integrative nutrition. When nuclear medicine/radiotherapy is used therapeutically against cancer, the goal is to destroy the cancer tumor, reduce /de-bulk the tumor), or weaken its ability to grow and metastasize.

There are 3 types of radiation important here:

1.Alpha radiation: is composed of an “ejected” Helium nucleus. Examples of elements that emit alpha radiation are Radium, Radon, and Uranium. Although alpha is potent once the element is ingested, inhaled, or inside the cell, it doesn’t penetrate the skin deeply when emitted from an outside source.

2. Beta radiation: is composed of an “ejected” electron. Examples of elements that emit beta are Strontium-90, Carbon 14 (C14), and Tritium (3H). Like alpha, beta is potent once the element is inside the body, but does not penetrate the skin deeply when emitted from an outside source.

3. Gamma and X radiation:referred to asγand/or X-ray, they are highly penetrating forms of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). Examples are Iodine-131 and Cobalt-60.

Don’t confuse radiotherapy with detection. An example of a detector is Technetium-99, commonly used as Tc-99m (metastable Tc-99). Tc-99m is attached to a ligand called methoxyisobutylisonitrile (MIBI), which forms Technetium (99m TC) sestamibi, a tracer for myocardial imaging as well as for detection of suspect breast tumors. It is usually injected I.V. and photon emissions are detected by a “gamma camera”. The clinician may view a suspected tumor and monitor it for any abnormalities.

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