Cutting edge treatment with Nuclear Medicine

Recent trials into nuclear medicine techniques show they can sometimes drastically reduce the size of particular types of tumours when chemotherapy has been ineffective.

Neuroendocrine tumours (NET) are a diverse group of uncommon and complex tumours, with relatively low awareness among the medical community and general public. They most commonly arise in the pancreas, gastrointestinal tract and lung.

Dr Grace Kong is a Nuclear Medicine Physician at Peter Mac, working to learn more about this complex disease and ultimately improve survival rates for NET patients. Her research is focused on ways that nuclear medicine techniques can help diagnose NETs and provide better treatment options.

Dramatic tumour reduction from nuclear medicine therapy

Recent studies have highlighted the possibilities for this cutting-edge treatment, with one of several NET patients, illustrated here, seeing a significant response to nuclear medicine therapy after chemotherapy proved ineffective.

The images above are of a male patient diagnosed with NET.

Picture A - shows the primary lesion arising from the pancreas (area highlighted in green), with extensive spread to the liver (liver disease highlighted in red).

Picture B  - shows the results after 8 cycles of chemotherapy with persisting disease, the liver disease was in fact more extensive than baseline, suggesting that chemotherapy was ineffective. This patient was then treated with peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) a form of nuclear medicine radioactive treatment that specifically targets neuroendocrine tumour cells.

Picture C - shows a significant response with dramatic reduction in tumour burden after PRRT.

S = normal spleen; K = normal kidney; B = normal bladder

Dr Grace Kong was awarded a Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation Discovery Partner Fellowship for 2019

This research is the main focus of Dr Grace Kong, a Nuclear Medicine Physician here at Peter Mac, and one of three Peter Mac clinician researchers awarded the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation Discovery Partner Fellowships for 2019.

Grace shared with us what it means for her to be named as a Foundation Discovery Partner Fellow:

"As a mid-career female professional returning to near full-time clinical workforce and being committed to performing high quality research to advance Nuclear Medicine in cancer management, it is not easy to balance work and family challenges.

Being a Foundation Discovery Partner Fellow means receiving support to allow dedicated research time, which is fundamental to enable the performance of high-quality projects and increase scope of research, with the goals to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment and outcomes particularly for patients with Neuroendocrine Tumour. I am very grateful to Peter Mac donors for their support."

The Foundation Discovery Partner Fellowships are named in recognition and appreciation of the Victorian philanthropic community, with the funding coming from donors who make a regular monthly donation through the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation.

You can become a Discovery Partner and play a vital role in the search for cancer cures by joining here.

We look forward to watching the progress of Grace's research.