How Do Radiopharmaceuticals Work?

Reviewed on 11/2/2021

HOW DO RADIOPHARMACEUTICALS WORK?

Radiopharmaceuticals are a class of drugs used to treat metastatic pheochromocytoma (a small vascular tumor of the adrenal gland), paraganglioma (rare tumors that form near the carotid artery, along nerve pathways in the head and neck), and neuroendocrine tumors, to relieve pain in patients with osteoblastic metastatic bone lesions, and as a diagnostic agent in the uptake test to evaluate thyroid function and thyroid malignancies and for lymphatic mapping to locate lymph nodes draining a primary tumor site in patients with solid tumors.

Radiopharmaceuticals are drugs that contain radioactive isotopes, which are bound to biological molecules that can target specific organs, tissues, or cells within the human body and are used for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. They emit radiation that involves targeting tumors with molecules carrying radioactive particles that bind to specific receptors expressed by the tumor.

Radiopharmaceuticals are used to produce images of organs or tissues, a process called “scintigraphy.” A type of medical device known as a gamma camera can detect the gamma rays emitted by the radioisotope and generate images in a noninvasive manner that reflect the function of the organ or tissue under investigation.

Radiopharmaceuticals are also known as radiotracers, as they are used to diagnose dysfunction in body tissues.

Radiopharmaceuticals are administered via injectable and oral routes.

HOW ARE RADIOPHARMACEUTICALS USED?

Radiopharmaceuticals are used in conditions such as:

  • Pheochromocytoma (a small vascular tumor of the adrenal gland)
  • Paraganglioma (rare tumors that form near the carotid artery, along nerve pathways in the head and neck)
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Thyroid function diagnostic
  • Neuroendocrine tumors (cancers that begin in specialized cells called neuroendocrine cells)
  • Lymphatic mapping and node biopsy
  • Bone pain from skeletal metastases
  • Prostate cancer

WHAT ARE SIDE EFFECTS OF RADIOPHARMACEUTICALS?

Some of the common side effects include:

Other rare side effects include:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

IMAGES

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WHAT ARE NAMES OF RADIOPHARMACEUTICALS?

Generic and brand names of radiopharmaceuticals include:

References
https://reference.medscape.com/drugs/radiopharmaceuticals

https://www.rxlist.com/sodium-iodide-i-131-drug.htm#description

https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_lutathera/drugs-condition.htm

https://www.rxlist.com/quadramet-drug.htm#description

https://www.rxlist.com/xofigo-drug.htm

https://www.rxlist.com/azedra-drug.htm#description

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601004.html

https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_lymphoseek/drugs-condition.htm

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