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Production of medical radio-isotopes

Medical radio-isotopes for medical applications

SCK CEN produces radio-isotopes for medical imaging and medical treatments such as cancer therapy and pain control. Measuring the emitted dose allows to accurately monitor the radio-isotope in the body from the outside and, in this way, to analyse the behaviour of the organs or metabolisms involved. Radio-isotopes also help to destroy cancer cells.

Production of radio-isotopes

Belgium is one of five global players in the production and distribution of medical radio-isotopes.

  • SCK CEN - Kankerbestrijding (2019)

    Medical imaging

    SCK CEN produces the radio-isotope technetium-99m (won from molybdenum-99/technetium-99m generators), amongst other things, for cardiology or oncology purposes. Xenon-133 maps out the lungs.

  • SCK CEN - Kankerbestrijding (2019)

    Cancer diagnosis

    SCK CEN currently produces about 30 to 35% of the global demand for molybdenum-99.

    Almost 7 million patients can undergo a medical examination thanks to the production of this radio-isotope.

  • SCK CEN - Kankerbestrijding (2019)

    Cancer treatment

    In its BR2 reactor, SCK CEN produces several radio-isotopes that are used in cancer therapies, including iridium-192 (brachytherapy), jodium-131 (thyroid gland cancer), yttrium-90 (liver cancer) and lutetium-177 (prostate cancer).

  • SCK CEN - Infrastructuur BR2 (2019)

    New radio-isotopes

    SCK CEN continuously adapts its facilities to increase the irradiation capacities and produce a new generation of radio-isotopes, including holmium-166 and terbium-161 for treating liver cancer and prostate cancer respectively.

  • 2019_SCK CEN - Lageradioactiviteitsmetingen - mens

    Other medical applications

    The production of radio-isotopes by SCK CEN does not stop with medical imaging and cancer treatment. A few examples of other applications that are made possible by SCK CEN: erbium-169 for injections into joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis, samarium-153, strontium-89 or rhenium-188 for pain relief for patients with bone metastases and rhenium-186 for cardiac applications.

Interested in our research into new radioisotopes or therapeutic treatments? Read about our expertise and ambitions to step up the fight against cancer.

More information about cancer-control

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