Imagine if a single PET scan could detect cancer in a patient’s body—either primary tumors or those that have spread—and target it with drugs that simultaneously diagnose and eradicate the tumors. That is the promise of theranostics, an exciting new medical specialty being pioneered at Dana-Farber for diagnosing and treating cancer.

In other medical specialties, this joint diagnostic-therapeutic approach is employed, for example, in cardiac catheterization, when a catheter is inserted into an artery to diagnose a blockage and then is used to place a stent and administer treatments. For cancer, the goal is to inject diagnostic agents into the body that are monitored through PET scans to identify tumors with precision, then bind to specific proteins on each tumor cell and kill them. With imaging, clinicians can monitor the drug’s progress and watch as it detects and kills cancer cells.

Funds raised through The Dana-Farber Campaign will push forward this revolutionary approach to early diagnosis and precise treatment by funding high-grade equipment; financing pre-clinical studies and clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of potential chemical agents; hiring and training innovative staff to develop and administer the new theranostic treatments; and outfitting new, specialized theranostics facilities in Longwood and Chestnut Hill to allow for whole-body PET scans that are far faster than current standards.

Theranostics represents an entirely new way to Defy Cancer: by applying a radical approach to finding and treating cancers even earlier, and stopping their spread.

For more information or questions, please contact Amy Trapasso.

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