I’ve just been nuked!


When I was in the military, I was given basic training in how to deal with the threat of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare (known then as NBC).   However, there was a focus on the chemical side as that was classed as the most defendable of the 3 and probably the most likely scenario (but that’s only my opinion!).  I think the training for nuclear attack consisted of the following advice: ‘put your head between your legs and kiss your arse goodbye’ 🙂  Some 13 years after departing that wonderful organisation, I’m now allowing radioactivity to be injected into my body! At my age I’m no longer physically able to put my head between my legs but in any case, I need not be concerned about this controlled ‘contamination’ 🙂

For those who have been studying my blogs ready for the summer exam (did I mention this?), you will remember that Neuroendocrine Tumours can sometimes be difficult to find and / or display on conventional scanners.  You may also remember that they can sometimes secrete large amounts of hormones (mainly serotonin) – see blog: http://wp.me/p4AplF-3t and: http://wp.me/p4AplF-6c and: http://wp.me/p4AplF-9R. This is because they develop from cells that produce these hormones, so the tumours can also produce hormones and cause serious illness (this is normally known as a ‘functioning’ tumour).  Those who are destined to become top of the class in the summer exam will also remember that a drug known as a Somatostatin Analogue is used to treat Neuroendocrine Cancer patients.  This man-made drug mimics a naturally occurring hormone which Neuroendocrine tumours often absorb.  There are mainly two versions of this drug in use – ‘Octreotide’ and ‘Lanreotide’.   Octreotide is the one used for the scan thus its name ‘Octreotide Scan’ but it’s generally known as Somatostatin Receptor Scintigraphy (SRS).

Although the treatment aspect of this drug is to block/control the release of excess hormones and thus prevent serious illnesses, the job of the drug when used to support the radioactive scan is to guide the radioactivity to the tumour locations. This is achieved by using an amount of Octreotide ‘labelled’ with a mildly radioactive ‘tracer’ to make it show up on a radioactive scan. The radioactive labelled Octreotide is injected into the bloodstream and taken up by the Neuroendocrine Tumours wherever they are.  After allowing a few hours for the ‘mix’ to bind with all functioning tumours, a scanner with multiple gamma cameras (a gamma camera picks up radioactivity), is then used to take 360 degree 3D pictures of my whole body.  It is much more efficient than conventional scans (CT/MRI) at locating functioning tumours.  This is my third Octreotide scan, the first two were completed as part of my initial diagnosis and post surgical follow-up.  This event is a surveillance check plus post treatment follow-up and is done over 3 days.  Day 1 is now complete with the injection of the radioactive/Octreotide mix and the first scan. I may blog again about this later in the week.  Please see a picture of a nuclear scanning equipment below:

Gamma Camera Scanner
Gamma Camera Scanner


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