PET imaging has come a long way, with the first ever PET scanner coming to the fore in 1977. This technology utilizes the energy given off in body processes and turns them into images, highlighting the overactive or problem areas with the help of a radioactive tracer introduced into the body. It is used to detect several conditions including cancer, brain disorders and heart disease. Like any other technology, it continues to evolve and improve with time. These improvements are making it a better instrument in the detection and treatment of various diseases.
The major improvements include:
- Medical isotopes – Also known as radioisotopes, these naturally decaying atoms are very useful for the detection and treatment of several illnesses. Nuclear medicine is mostly used for cancer diagnosis and treatment. It has gained popularity and is used more often, with about 40 million nuclear procedures performed every year. It’s improved precision with minimal invasion makes it useful for monitoring high-risk areas affected by different diseases.
- Theranostics – Put therapeutics and diagnostics together and you get theranostics. Merging these two provides the opportunity to customize treatment. It involves combining particular targeted therapy with guidance from specific targeted diagnostic tests. Combining these two brings about a precision medicine approach to allow for diagnosis, appropriate drug delivery and monitoring of a patient’s treatment response. Since the diagnostic test indicates the specific molecular target on the tumor, therapy then comes directly to the identified target instead of the general area or general disease.
- With these two advancements, treatment becomes more personalized and ideally more effective. This is bound to increase the number of people getting improved treatment for their condition based on their genetic profile.
Possibilities are endless with advancements in medicine. In a few years, we may be looking at prevention mechanisms for cancer and other diseases using nuclear medicine and other technologies as well.