• Taking advantage of the occasion provided by the Golden Jubilee Annual Conference of Society of Nuclear Medicine, India (SNMICON 2018), being hosted by PGI Chandgiarh from November 22 to 25, top doctors from the Department of Nuclear Medicine of the prestigious tertiary healthcare institute have sought to reassure the people that nuclear medicine procedures used for targeted early and effective medical diagnosis and treatment with the help of radioactive isotopes are strictly regulated and absolutely safe.

Recent advances in nuclear medicine therapies have significantly improved treatment outcomes, especially in prostate cancer and neuro-endocrine tumours. Investigations like gamma camera imaging and PET-CT imaging are being used daily almost in every branch of medicine and surgery, including cardiology, oncology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, orthopaedics and urology, on patients of all age groups, from new-borns to geriatric age group.

Significant research work is also being conducted in various fields, including study of brain function in diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Schizophrenia, sports injuries and Tuberculosis, along with advanced studies in various types of cancers, they informed.

Interacting with media persons on the eve of SNMICON 2018 on Wednesday, Prof BR Mittal, head of the Department of Nuclear Medicine, Prof Baljinder Singh and Prof Anish Bhattacharya said India in fact has been a pioneer in structured teaching of this branch of medicine since the 1960s. The expansion of the speciality in the country though has been tardy and lagged far behind some of the advanced countries, including USA.

“There are 6,000-odd centres practicing nuclear medicine in the USA which are benefiting some 18 million citizens each year from nuclear medicine procedures used to diagnose and treat a wide variety of diseases. As against this, there are currently less than 300 centres in India as per the recently released list (July 2018) of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board,” the doctors shared.

According to the doctors, though nuclear medicine procedures are increasingly finding acceptability in effective and early diagnosis and treatment of a host of diseases, the challenge lies in making continuous efforts to indigenously develop various imaging devices and machines, and more advanced isotopes and tracers to drastically cut down the high costs and further improve outcomes. These indigenous solutions can then be expanded across the country, including in peripheral areas, to benefit large sections of the people, they added.

At the four-day conference, nuclear medicine physicians from across the country and abroad will discuss current problems in management of cancer as well as thyroid and cardiac diseases.