A new scanning technique to improve radiotherapy treatment of lung cancer has been developed by a Queen's team led by Dr Gerry Hanna from Queen’s University and Dr Alan Hounsell, Honorary Senior Lecturer at Queen's.
The technique allows medical staff to identify exactly where the tumour is located, ensuring a more accurate delivery of treatment.
Dr Hanna, a Queen’s research fellow based at the Belfast City Hospital Cancer Centre, is examining the new PET CT scanner which helps identify where the tumour is. This research has led to his team being awarded the St Luke’s Medal in Dublin for the best radiotherapy research in Ireland.
The PET CT scan combines a CT scan and a PET scan in one scanning procedure allowing a more accurate diagnosis.
Dr Hanna explained: “Doctors need to be certain of the tumours position and size. In a PET scan a patient is injected with radiolabelled glucose which is taken up by the malignant cells. This glucose includes a molecule which emits a radioactive ray. By measuring where this is taken up we can more accurately define where the tumour is and how active that tumour is.
“The CT scan which is taken first can take up to three minutes. Then the PET part of the scan is taken which can take up to 45 minutes. The blacker the images, the greater the activity. High activity is typical of cancer.”
This is the first time a research team from Belfast has won the medal presented at the annual meeting of the Faculty of Radiologists of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Entries were submitted from across Ireland, the UK, Germany and Canada.