I Think I Scan

As a teacher I try to differentiate lessons so that all students have an opportunity to learn, so it is with the Ga68 Scan —

To My Niece (7 years old):
“So, Aunt Lisa, what’s wrong with you?”
“Well…(really, how does one explain a weird neuroendocrine cancer to a child) there are some icky places inside my body that make me sick. So on Tuesday I’m having a special x-ray so the doctor can see where the icky spots are.”
“Will you have surgery to take them out?”
“Yep — the doctor will take out the icky spots and then I won’t feel like I have the flu every day.”
“What’s the flu?” (her mother: “it’s when you throw up”)
“Because right now I feel like I have the ‘throw up flu’ every day….pray that I’ll feel better.”

In a Succinct Paragraph:
In Carcinoid Syndrome, the tumors throw off extra hormones; Octreotide (my current medication) finds the tumors and locks them down so they don’t throw off extra hormones.  In a special generator, gallium and octreotide are mixed for an hour, then injected into the patient (me).  This newly joined pair goes to the tumors (because of the octreotide) and makes them light up (because of the gallium) in a PET/CT scan.  But alas the pair only last for 68 minutes, thus the ’68’ in Ga68.  So, it’s quite important for the patient (me) to be at the radiology department before they fire up the generator.  I also have to not take octreotide for at least 24 hours prior to the scan so the newly joined pair will make a beeline to the tumors.

Read about it in a 2007 medical review: Gallium-68 PET: A New Frontier in Receptor Cancer Imaging

Watch it in a 2009 video: Targeted Radiotherapy for Neuroendocrine Tumors

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