Midwest’s Newest field of Medicine

It’s often assumed that cutting edge cancer care is only available on the coasts or in larger cities, but Nebraska Cancer Specialists (NCS) in Omaha has the Midwest’s first and largest dedicated Theranostics center, providing state-of-the-art clinical care and research opportunities for patients. Theranostics is a new field of medicine that combines specific targeted therapy based upon a specific targeted diagnostic test. With a focus on patient-centered care, Theranostics provides a transition from conventional medicine to contemporary personalized and precision medicine.

“Theranostics is the newest form of cancer therapy,” said Sam Mehr MD, a Nuclear Medicine physician with NCS. “Now we have a highly targeted therapy that will attack the tumor directly without attacking the surrounding tissues in the rest of the body.” Theranostics uses Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT), which is targeted radiation to kill cancer cells from within. Adults with neuroendocrine and now prostate cancer tumors are among the first patients who can benefit from PRRT. 

In order to continue a fully integrated approach to care, NCS is bringing the latest in molecular level PET/CT imaging to its Theranostics center. The state-of-the-art imaging suite gives the flexibility to offer a wide variety of clinical imaging using the latest technology available to patients. Most recently, NCS began offering Prostate Specific Membrane Antigen (PSMA) PET imaging for prostate cancer, which is the second most common cancer in men. The PSMA PET works by using a radioactive tracer. Nuclear medicine physicians inject the tracer, which attaches itself to proteins that overexpress themselves in cancer tumors, enabling physicians to pinpoint their location, which can allow for more treatment options. 

After the tumors are identified with PET/CT, a tumor-killing radioactive particle may be precisely directed to the tumor sites, killing cancer cells. This is unlike any other type of cancer therapy in that the cancer killing radioactive particles are precisely drawn to tumor cells like iron filings are drawn to a magnet. Nebraska Cancer Specialists is uniquely able to provide this combined diagnostic and therapeutic approach to not only neuroendocrine and prostate cancer patients, but to an increasing number of diverse malignancies.

NCS has created a comprehensive care model that allows complete care for our patients from diagnosis to treatment. Theranostics is one of the fastest growing areas in nuclear medicine and oncology, delivering exciting opportunities for cancer patients. “We look forward to continuing to provide the latest and most advanced treatment and diagnostic options for patients,” said Scott Degenhardt, NMAA, NCS Research Manager and Theranostics Operations Director.

The Theranostics center and imaging suite both work closely alongside the NCS research department, which on average offers more than 100 active clinical trials, more than any other facility in the state. “Recently, NCS has enrolled the first two patients in the United States and in the world to our Lu177 PSMA clinical trials for metastatic prostate cancer,” said Degenhardt. “NCS Theranostics and research departments are able to provide precise diagnosis and timely treatment options for patients.”

Both departments have grown tremendously and are turning points for cancer patients in the Midwest who will play a key role in accelerating cancer research, leaving a legacy for those who follow. For more information on NCS’s cutting edge, personalized approach to care, visit nebraskacancer.com.

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