Reston, VA-A team of researchers and patient advocates has addressed the challenges related to traveling after receiving 177Lu-DOTATATE radiation therapy in a study published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine. Due to the residual radiation activity of 177Lu-DOTATATE, neuroendocrine tumor patients have experienced travel delays at U.S. ports of entry. It is recommended that patients carry a travel card containing treatment information after each therapy cycle and for an additional three months after therapy has concluded to avoid travel delays.
“Disruption in travel, especially if not anticipated, can be extremely distressing for patients who have enough to deal with already. For many such patients, this travel is meant to take the mind off of their disease. Being stopped at borders is, without a doubt, potentially traumatic,” said Thorvardur R. Halfdanarson, MD, professor of oncology at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Rochester, Minnesota.
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018, 177Lu-DOTATATE has been used for the treatment of advanced somatostatin receptor-positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors by more than 150 hospitals and medical centers throughout the United States. The radiation from the treatment is not harmful to others, but it can be detected by sensitive radiation detectors at international airports and border crossings and can lead to travel delays. Furthermore, the metastable isotope 177mLu, which is present after treatment with 177Lu-DOTATATE, can be mistaken for plutonium at ports of entry, as plutonium and 177mLu have some similarities in their radiation signatures. This can contribute to additional wait times.