Accurately diagnosing and tracking neuroendocrine tumors can be a challenge. That’s because neuroendocrine tumors grow in the cells that make hormones. They’re most often found in the pancreas or a gland in the abdomen. Neuroendocrine tumors may also grow in the stomach, intestines or lungs.

A powerful new imaging study – Gallium-68 dotatate Positron Emission Tomography (PET) – introduced recently at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) East in Prescott Valley is helping radiologists locate these hard-to-find tumors. YRMC East is the only facility in Yavapai County or northern Arizona that currently offers Gallium-68 dotatate PET.

“For people who suffer from neuroendocrine tumors, the availability of this imaging study in Prescott Valley is very good news,” said Shaun Walton, CNMT, Supervisor, Nuclear Medicine and PET/CT at YRMC. “This study is faster and offers more specificity than other neuroendocrine tumor studies.”

A Simple, Two-Step Process

Gallium-68 dotatate PET, as the study is called, includes a two-step process. The first step involves a radiopharmaceutical – a radioactive tracer that finds certain diseases – called Gallium-68 dotatate. This is administered to patients through an IV as they relax in a recliner at YRMC East. The Gallium-68 dotatate is quickly absorbed by neuroendocrine tumors in the body. In less than 45 minutes, patients are ready for the next step: a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan.

The PET scan detects the neuroendocrine tumors that have absorbed the Gallium-68 dotatate. They’re displayed as bright patches on the PET images. This allows a YRMC radiologist to see where the neuroendocrine tumors are located in the patient’s body and track their response to treatment.

No Side Effects 

“The Gallium-68 dotatate does not cause any reactions or side effects,” explained Walton, “but because it is radioactive, patients should keep their distance from children for six hours after receiving Gallium-68 dotatate.”

For more information about Gallium-68 dotatate PET, talk to your physician or contact Shaun Walton at (928) 771-4718.