The IAEA plays a vital role in helping countries to establish or upgrade oncology and radiotherapy centres, and to build capacity in nuclear medicine and
diagnostic imaging for diagnosis, and in some cases, treatment.
An example of the IAEA support provided to Member States to enhance their capabilities can be seen in Moldova. The IAEA has been supporting Moldova through two national projects, in which the Nuclear Medicine and Diagnostic Imaging Section and the Technical Cooperation Department helped strengthen the nuclear medicine practice to improve chronic disease diagnosis. This was done by implementing SPECT/ CT in clinical practice and preparing a feasibility study for establishing a PET centre, and more recently by updating the SPECT/CT system to a PET/SPECT/CT system. These actions contribute towards an earlier cancer diagnosis, decreased mortality rates caused by late stage diagnosis, improved evaluation of therapy selection as
well as therapy monitoring, long term evaluation of patients and improved care of population.
As one of many initiatives to provide support to the scientific and medical community to further improve patient management, the IAEA initiated and sponsored a coordinated research project to help doctors effectively evaluate and treat patients with a form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a very fast growing and aggressive type of cancer, using a nuclear diagnostic imaging technique (PET scan). This project involved the IAEA in cooperation with eight research centres from Brazil, Chile, Hungary, India, Italy, Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand, and researchers from France, Italy, Turkey and the United Kingdom. The results of the project have led to the largest database of these types of PET scan studies to date, as well as a series of recommendations on how doctors can evaluate the scans to effectively treat patients with this form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The database will be a resource for further research in this area of medicine, and the recommendations are expected to influence how patient treatment is managed throughout entire treatment cycles, helping to ensure that patients receive safe and appropriate care. This study has received international recognition and was presented with the Editor's Choice Award as one of
the best three papers published in 2014 in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.
Robert Carr, one of the authors of the IAEA paper, receiving the Journal of Nuclear Medicine Editor's choice award among other recipients at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging annual meeting. (Photo: R. Kashyap, IAEA)