Current Status of Radiopharmaceutical Therapy

Sara St. James, Bryan Bednarz, Stanley Benedict, Jeffrey C. Buchsbaum, Yuni Dewaraja, Eric Frey, Robert Hobbs, Joseph Grudzinski, Emilie Roncali, George Sgouros, Jacek Capala, Ying Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In radiopharmaceutical therapy (RPT), a radionuclide is systemically or locally delivered with the goal of targeting and delivering radiation to cancer cells while minimizing radiation exposure to untargeted cells. Examples of current RPTs include thyroid ablation with the administration of 131I, treatment of liver cancer with 90Y microspheres, the treatment of bony metastases with 223Ra, and the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors with 177Lu-DOTATATE. New RPTs are being developed where radionuclides are incorporated into systemic targeted therapies. To assure that RPT is appropriately implemented, advances in targeting need to be matched with advances in quantitative imaging and dosimetry methods. Currently, radiopharmaceutical therapy is administered by intravenous or locoregional injection, and the treatment planning has typically been implemented like chemotherapy, where the activity administered is either fixed or based on a patient's body weight or body surface area. RPT pharmacokinetics are measurable by quantitative imaging and are known to vary across patients, both in tumors and normal tissues. Therefore, fixed or weight-based activity prescriptions are not currently optimized to deliver a cytotoxic dose to targets while remaining within the tolerance dose of organs at risk. Methods that provide dose estimates to individual patients rather than to reference geometries are needed to assess and adjust the injected RPT dose. Accurate doses to targets and organs at risk will benefit the individual patients and decrease uncertainties in clinical trials. Imaging can be used to measure activity distribution in vivo, and this information can be used to determine patient-specific treatment plans where the dose to the targets and organs at risk can be calculated. The development and adoption of imaging-based dosimetry methods is particularly beneficial in early clinical trials. In this work we discuss dosimetric accuracy needs in modern radiation oncology, uncertainties in the dosimetry in RPT, and best approaches for imaging and dosimetry of internal radionuclide therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-901
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 15 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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