Nuclear meds can cure cancer, and it's nothing to be scared of

08 November 2018 6:42 AM

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Nuclear meds can cure cancer, and it's nothing to be scared of

This according to the CEO of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), Phumzile Tshelane.

Speaking at a press conference in Rosebank on Wednesday, Tshelane said nuclear technology not only helps with quicker diagnosis of cancer, but can be used in treatment as well.

"Firstly, the undergraduate degree programme [for doctors] doesn't include nuclear medication, this is only introduced at postgraduate level.

"Doctors tend to be conservative - and we want them to be. They will not give you something that has not been taught to them.

"Also, the number of oncology units are few in South Africa. All the private hospitals use nuclear medicine, but public hospitals don't - only the academic hospitals do. We are constrained by infrastructure."

Through its subsidiary, NTP Radioisotopes, Necsa is a global supplier of radiopharmaceuticals and radiochemicals for use in nuclear medicine, Tshelane said.

Its products are used for the diagnosis and treatment of various cancers and tumours, using nuclear imaging technology.

Nuclear imaging is the "inside-out version" of X-rays, in that it involves radiation emitted from within a patient's body. X-rays emit radiation into the body.

Radioisotopes, from which nuclear medicine is made, are produced in nuclear research reactor and particle accelerator facilities.

"This is to ensure the knowledge is not just with wise men at Pelindaba - it is to train young people to ensure we have a future in this type of work," Tshelane said.

According to Kemm, Necsa's medical technology saves a person's life every three minutes and is used in 60 countries.


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