Author:  Gesche Tallen, MD, PhD, Editor:  Maria Yiallouros, Reviewer:  Prof. Dr. med. Ursula Creutzig, English Translation:  Hannah McRae, Last modification: 2015/01/13 https://kinderkrebsinfo.de/doi/e30503

An octreotide-scan (octreo-scan, somatostatin-receptor scintigraphy) is a nuclear medical imaging procedure that uses radioactive material to detect where a childhood cancer started (the primary site) and any places it has spread to (metastases).

Octreotide is a so-called somatostatin-like substance. Somatostatin is a large protein that functions as a messenger (neurotransmitter) in the central nervous system (CNS). To transmit a message from one CNS-cell to another, the somatostatin has to bind to a special adaptor (somatostatin-receptor). These receptors are found in various areas of the brain such as the hypothalamus, the cerebral cortex, and the brainstem, but also in embryonic, that means very immature, tumours.

For an octreotide-scan, liquid radioactive octreotide is injected into a vein, travels through the bloodstream and attaches to any cells with somatostatin-receptors in the body, including cancer cells. A radiation detecting device, a gamma camera, detects the radioactive octreotide and makes pictures showing where the cancer cells are.

The results of an octreotide-scan are usually analysed by a paediatric radiologist. An octreotide-scan is generally only performed on children or teenagers (under 18 years of age) after an informed consent has been obtained by the parent or legal guardian.