Isotope shortage could impact cancer therapy in Germany

A shortage of special radioactive isotopes in Europe could threaten to halt critical cancer therapy for patients at German hospitals.

Isotope shortage could impact cancer therapy in Germany
Photo: DPA

The isotopes are produced at only four reactors throughout Europe, but the Friday edition of the Rheinische Post reported that all have been temporarily taken offline.

Two reactors in France are down for maintenance, one in the Netherlands is experiencing technical difficulties, and the final reactor in Belgium was turned off following a recent radioactive mishap.

According to the Society for Nuclear Medicine in Göttingen in Lower Saxony, the shortage of isotopes poses a serious threat to Germany’s cancer patients – especially those with rapidly growing tumours.

Bio Cis Berlin, one of three firms in Germany that can produce the generators for creating isotope technetium-99m, told the paper that the country has only 40 percent of the usual amount of radioactive material needed for medical therapy.