DENVER -- Colorado is now one of the few places in the world where a new type of cancer screening is being done.
Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers announced it's the first in the region, and one of only a handful of sites in the United States, to offer the newly FDA approved Ga-68 DOTATATE PET/CT for patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NETS). NETS is a rare type of cancer that happens happen when normal cells become tumors.
The new technology, called NETSPOT, allows doctors to see tumors inside the body like never before. These tumors primarily affect abdominal and respiratory organs.
"We Inject a small amount of radiation and a hormone, and it binds to the tumors, and you can take lots of pictures," says Dr. Eric Liu co-director of the Neuroendocrine Institute at RMCC.
Liu helped bring the technology to Colorado. He estimates there are at least 120,000 people in the US with this disease, and up to 8,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.
NETS can cause a variety of symptoms, including flushing, rashes, diarrhea. They can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms correspond with other conditions as well. NETSPOT allows doctors to locate the tumors and more effectively treat them. That can mean a longer and higher quality of life for a patient.
"When you get a better picture, it means you can take better care of the patients, says Liu. "I’m a surgeon and if I have a better picture of someone that means I can do better surgery."
Dr. Liu is hopeful that this same technology might someday be applied to other conditions as well.