Jacqueline Swafford-Thistle,Massachusetts, recently moved to a VNA liaison position with Lahey Medical Center in Burlington. In that job, Jacqueline Swafford-Thistle communicates with health professionals and patients. Previously, Jackie Swafford-Thistle served as a nuclear medicine technologist.
In those jobs, Jacqueline Thistle became well acquainted with radiopharmaceuticals, chemicals used in treating bone cancer. Whether injected, taken orally, or inserted into a body cavity, these medications go to cancerous parts of the body and emit alpha or beta radiation.
These radioisotopes, strontium 89, samarium 153, and radium 223, destroy cancer cells and relieve the pain caused by tumors. (They are also employed in small amounts for diagnostic imaging.) For tumors in multiple bones, this method offers advantages over beamed radiation therapy. These techniques sometimes work in combination to alleviate very painful tumors.
Therapy with radiopharmaceuticals sometimes creates side effects. They can decrease blood cell counts, especially for white cells, which can lead to an increased chance of infection. Also vulnerable are platelets, the lack of which can lead to bleeding and bruises.